WATERBURY, Conn., October 17, 2013 - Students at Waterbury's Woodrow Wilson Elementary School will receive something extra in their backpacks besides books and school supplies this year. As part of a two-year program implemented by Blessings in a Backpack, a national child hunger relief non-profit, all Woodrow Wilson students will receive nutritious food each weekend throughout the entire school year. To celebrate the program, sponsored by Cigna (NYSE: CI) and supported by a grant from the Cigna Foundation, the students will get their backpacks during a kickoff event tomorrow at 8:45 a.m.
Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary will open the program with a message to the students. Representatives from the school, Cigna and Blessings will also attend.
Mayor O'Leary complimented Cigna for its commitment to the program, which will have a profound effect on the lives of the students at Woodrow Wilson Elementary.
"On behalf of the city of Waterbury, we are very grateful for the Blessings in a Backpack program, which is an added benefit of the city's new and proud affiliation with Cigna," said O'Leary.
Additionally, Cigna's Mobile Learning Lab, an interactive health awareness exhibit on wheels, will be onsite at the school to demonstrate the importance of practicing lifestyle choices that can improve overall health, such as portion control and good nutrition. Students will also receive information about good hygiene and other healthy habits.
"Cigna, Blessings and educators at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School recognized a tremendous opportunity to help needy children," said Brooke Wiseman, Chief Executive Officer for Blessings in a Backpack. "We look forward to implementing this program and growing it throughout the region to help combat childhood hunger."
"We are thrilled to join Blessings in a Backpack and provide students with the resources they need to be successful, which includes having access to healthy, well-balanced meals," said Don Curry, president and general manager of Cigna in New England. "Our mission is to help people improve their health, well-being and sense of security, and child wellness and nutrition are a key part of that mission."
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 16.2 million American children struggle with hunger each year. 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. Cigna has donated health and wellness materials to the schools, as well as staff resources to help distribute backpacks to students. 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 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.
"At Cigna, we have a responsibility to ensure individuals are given the tools necessary to lead healthier lives, and one of the ways we do this is by aligning with organizations that share the same commitment to improving health and wellness," said Rich Stephens, Cigna's vice president of business development, who serves on the Blessings in a Backpack board of directors and will be one of several Cigna team members distributing backpacks to the students during tomorrow's event.
As part of its support for the program, Cigna will also provide fall treat bags filled with healthy snacks and words of encouragement for the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School students. The bags will be assembled by Cigna executives from across the country during a special event at the company's Bloomfield, Conn., headquarters on Tuesday, October 29. Cigna will deliver the bags to the students on Wednesday, October 30.
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 $80 feeds one American school child in our program for an entire 38-week school year. Blessings in a Backpack is currently feeding over 60,000 children across 43 U.S. states. (see all at blessingsinabackpack.org/programlocations). 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.
View source version on businesswire.com:http://www.businesswire.com/multimedia/home/20131017005263/en/