Newsroom | 31 May 2013

Blackwell Elementary School Students to Receive Food-Filled "Blessings" Thanks to Cigna and the Cigna Foundation

The "Blessings in a Backpack" project will feed more than 200 grade school students


Cigna Corporation
Amy Turkington, 860-902-6625
Blessings in a Backpack
Nikki Grizzle, 502-821-6077


RICHMOND, Va., May 31, 2013 - Some 200 grade school students at Blackwell Elementary School in Richmond will receive free nutritious food each week starting this Friday from "Blessings in a Backpack," a national child hunger relief non-profit whose mission is to ensure needy elementary school children have food on the weekends during the school year. The three-year program will be in place for the remainder of the school year and then will start again in the fall when school is back in session. To celebrate the kickoff of the program at Blackwell Elementary School this week, all 500 students at the school will receive a full backpack.

Blessings in a Backpack is a results-oriented program that is designed to feed elementary school children whose families qualify for the federally funded National School Lunch Program and have little or no access to healthy food on the weekends.

The program is supported nationally and locally by Cigna, a global health service company. Funding for the food-filled backpacks was provided by the Cigna Foundation, which has made grants totaling $70,000 to help Blessings expand the program to more schools.

"The combined missions of Cigna, Blessings, and Blackwell Elementary School recognized a tremendous opportunity to help needy children," said Beth Bush, Director of Athletic Partnerships for Blessings in a Backpack. "We look forward to implementing this program and growing it throughout the region to help combat childhood hunger."

"At Cigna, we're committed to helping nurture what's unique in every individual, so they can reach their full potential. To achieve this, we connect with organizations that share our approach to enhancing personal and community health. That is why we are so excited to join with Blessings in a Backpack in this program. By providing nutritious meals to these deserving students, we can help each and every one of them become the best-and the healthiest-person they can be," said Julia Huggins, president and general manager of Cigna in the MidAtlantic.

The backpack kickoff event will be at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, May 31st, at Blackwell Elementary School. Representatives from the school, Cigna and Blessings in a Backpack will all participate. Cigna's Mobile Learning Lab will be on site to demonstrate to students and staff from the six interactive health exhibits, how stress, portion control, nutrition, and other lifestyle choices impact their overall health. For day of information contact: Beth Bush 502-295-2555.

Child wellness is a key focus area of Cigna's corporate responsibility platform, Cigna Connects, through which Cigna is bringing together resources, experts and stakeholders to create lasting improvements in senior care, child wellness, health equity and health literacy.

About Blessings in a Backpack:

Blessings in a Backpack, People Magazine's Charity of 2012, is a results-oriented program that is designed to feed elementary school children whose families qualify for the federally funded National School Lunch Program and have little or no food on the weekends. Better test scores, improved reading skills, positive behavior, improved health and increased attendance have all been attributed to the success of this program. Just $80 feeds one American school child in our program for an entire 38-week school year. Blessings in a Backpack is currently feeding over 57,000 children in over 500 schools across 41 U.S. states. (see all at We are Feeding the Future of America® - one school at a time

About the Cigna Foundation

The Cigna Foundation is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work.

About Cigna

Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has approximately 78 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit