OSWEGO — Oswego’s Blessings in a Backpack program will step up its fight against hunger this month when program volunteers turn their annual chicken barbecue fundraiser into a drive-through barbecue for local families in need.
Masked and gloved volunteers will begin handing out the hot meals and additional food at noon Saturday, May 30, at Oswego’s Church of the Resurrection on the corner of West Fifth and Cayuga streets.
“So many families have lost their source of income since the pandemic lockdown,” said program coordinator Melissa Russell, “and many were already experiencing food insecurity. Our advisory committee decided our program could do more to help.”
Volunteers will cook 400 barbecued chicken meals and pack 400 bags with additional food to prepare for later. “We’ll offer two meals and two bags of food per car to those who need it,” Russell said.
Cars should enter the church driveway from Cayuga Street, and everyone in the car needs to wear a mask, she noted. A volunteer will place the food in the car’s back seat or trunk.
Meals will include a barbecued half chicken, salt potatoes, baked beans, and a cookie or brownie. The additional food will include cereal, pasta and sauce, peanut butter and jelly, a loaf of bread, a can of chicken or tuna, and a bag of apples. C’s Farms and Ontario Orchards will provide the apples.
“This is for families in need now,” Russell emphasized. “They don’t have to be on the schools’ list for free or reduced-price lunches because we know that circumstances have changed -- a lot.”
Normally, the Oswego program feeds hungry bellies among schoolchildren in all of Oswego’s schools during weekends and school breaks throughout the academic year. It was reaching 400 children each week in 2019-20 until schools closed for the pandemic. Since then, volunteers have continued to pack food, and the Oswego City School District continued to distribute it each week.
Blessings in a Backpack is a national organization with a mission of helping to end childhood hunger. Church of the Resurrection, Oswego’s Episcopal church, is the lead sponsor of the program in Oswego, partnering with Grace Lutheran Church and others.
The May 30 giveaway is made possible by individual, corporate and foundation donors and participants in past fundraisers like the early summer barbecue, fall trivia night, and spring “Blast Hunger” event.