Newsroom | 06 February 2015

Treadwell Elementary School Students Receive Weekend Meals, Thanks to Blessings in a Backpack, Cigna and the Cigna Foundation


Michelle Vroom, 267-606-5822
Blessings in a Backpack
Beth Bush, 502-295-2555

  • Program will feed 200 grade-school students throughout the school year
  • Students get food-filled backpacks at kickoff event today
  • Former NBA players Elliott Perry and Andre Turner and former NFL player Glenn Rogers to address students during the event

MEMPHIS, Tenn., February 06, 2015 - Students at Treadwell Elementary will receive something extra in their backpacks this year. As part of a three-year program implemented by national child hunger relief non-profit Blessings in a Backpack, 200 students will receive backpacks filled with nutritious food each weekend throughout the school year. To kick off the program, sponsored by Cigna (NYSE:CI) and supported by a grant from the Cigna Foundation, participating students will receive their backpacks during a special event this afternoon.

Shelby County Schools' chief of staff Reginald Porter, Jr. will kick off the program with opening remarks. Former NBA players Elliott Perry and Andre Turner and former NFL player Glenn Rogers will encourage students to adopt healthy habits and stay in school. Representatives from Treadwell, Cigna, Blessings and Shelby County Schools Office of Coordinated School Health will also attend. The Mitchell High School Band will perform.

"Our backpacks give children the food they need during those times when free or reduced-priced school lunches are not available, such as on weekends," said Kevin Beam, chief operating officer for Blessings in a Backpack. "Working with Cigna and the Cigna Foundation will help bring national attention to the Blessings mission of feeding hungry children. Together, we can fight to end childhood hunger."

"Without proper nutrition, children have difficulty focusing in school and are at a higher risk for tooth decay and absenteeism due to illness," said Mary Tate-Smith, Cigna's vice president in Memphis. "We're thrilled to work alongside Blessings in a Backpack to ensure students in Memphis have the tools they need to live healthier lives."

In honor of National Children's Dental Health Month, Cigna dental mascot Mikey Molar will teach students about the link between nutrition and good oral health. The kids will receive dental care supplies and oral health information in their backpacks.

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 and Rich Stephens, Cigna's vice president of business development, serves on the Blessings in a Backpack board of directors. Child wellness is a key focus of Cigna's corporate responsibility platform, Cigna Connects.

Funding for the food-filled backpacks was provided by the Cigna Foundation. Cigna and the Cigna Foundation have contributed $450,000 to Blessings in a Backpack, including a $100,000 World of Difference grant to expand the program's reach nationwide.

Cigna's commitment to child wellness in Memphis extends beyond the school year. For the past two years, Cigna and the Cigna Foundation have worked with the City of Memphis and Mayor A C Wharton to provide healthy, free meals to youth during the summer as part of the City of Memphis Summer Food Service Program. To date, the Cigna Foundation has provided more than $200,000 to fund the program.

About Blessings in a Backpack

Blessings in a Backpack, People Magazines 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. As little as $100 feeds one American school child in our program for an entire 38-week school year. Blessings in a Backpack is currently feeding over 72,000 children in 44 states, the District of Columbia and 700+ schools. Please visit

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 85 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit