SANFORD, Fla., March 12, 2014 - Books and school supplies aren't the only items Hamilton Elementary School students will find in their backpacks this year. As part of a three-year program implemented by Blessings in a Backpack, a national child hunger relief non-profit, 250 students at Hamilton Elementary will receive nutritious food each weekend throughout the school year. To celebrate the program, sponsored by Cigna (NYSE: CI) and supported by a grant from the Cigna Foundation, all 750 students at the school will receive backpacks during a kickoff event tomorrow morning.
The event will begin with a special assembly to teach students the importance of proper nutrition for healthy bodies and teeth. Seminole County Public School Superintendent Dr. Walt Griffin will attend, along with representatives from Cigna and Blessings in a Backpack.
Following the assembly, there will be oral health demonstrations during K-2 gym classes. Cigna dental mascot Mikey the Molar will teach kids about oral hygiene and students will receive dental care supplies and oral health information in their backpacks.
"Cigna, Seminole County Public Schools and educators at Hamilton Elementary School recognized a tremendous opportunity to help children who do not have access to healthy food," said Beth Bush, director of partnerships for Blessings in a Backpack. "We look forward to implementing this program and growing it throughout the region to help combat childhood hunger."
Blessings in a Backpack is a results-oriented program 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 schools in several locations nationwide.
"Child wellness is a primary focus for Cigna, which is why we align ourselves with organizations that share the same commitment to improving the health and well-being of future generations," said Rich Stephens, Cigna's vice president of business development, who serves on the Blessings in a Backpack board of directors. "We are thrilled to work alongside Blessings in a Backpack to bring this valuable program to schools across the country."
Child wellness is a key focus of Cigna's corporate responsibility platform, Cigna Connects, through which the company brings 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. $100 feeds one American school child in our program for an entire 38-week school year. Blessings in a Backpack is currently feeding over 65,000 children in 44 states, the District of Columbia and 585 schools. Please visit www.blessingsinabackpack.org. 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.
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 80 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com.