Weekend Backpacks Kicks Off Virtual Food Series to Feed Baltimore City Kids Amid COVID Pandemic

Local star mixologists put their skills to the test to fight child hunger

BALTIMORE (March 2, 2021) – Weekend Backpacks, a nonprofit that provides weekend meals to food-insecure youth in Baltimore City, today announced the launch of its Chefs’ Event Reimagined, a four-part virtual food series to raise funds that will go towards supplying bags of food to kids who rely on public schools to provide most of their meals. The series is open to the public and kicks off with Mixology 101: Dueling Bartenders on Sunday, March 21 from 3-4 p.m. EST on Zoom.

“Food insecurity impacts young lives in often unbearable and sometimes long-lasting ways,” said President Stu Dettelbach. “At Weekend Backpacks, our mission is to make sure no child goes hungry by providing the essential nourishing food they need outside of school when it is often unavailable. We’re very excited to announce this imaginative series featuring creative cocktails and tasty recipes that individuals and families can enjoy in the comfort of their homes and that will enable us to do more for our kids.”

Led by two of Baltimore’s star mixologists, Justin Austin, beverage director of Linwood’s, and Steve Wecker, beverage director of Cured and 18th & 21st, the event will feature step-by-step demonstrations of how to create four specialty cocktails. Each registrant will be provided with the main curated ingredients needed to make each drink prior to the event.

With a volunteer base of more than 300 people that assemble and deliver the bags, nearly all the proceeds from the events will go towards purchasing essential food items. Since Weekend Backpacks understands that no child lives in isolation, each bag contains enough food to feed three children up to six meals. Due to school shutdowns over the last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, the number of meals needed to feed this vulnerable population throughout the school year more than doubled from nearly 300,000 in 2019 to 630,000 in 2020.

“When schools were closed due to the ongoing safety concerns surrounding COVID-19, the need was greater than ever as thousands of children were left without access to their main source of food,” said Founder Sandie Nagel. “Children cannot learn and develop when their days start and end with the pangs of food insecurity. Although schools are now reopening, we still have a long way to go in order to reach every child in the capacity that’s needed today. We know that the funds raised from these events will help provide these children and their families with some relief and much-needed hope.”

The minimum donation for the Mixology 101: Dueling Bartenders event is $45, which includes most of the ingredients needed to make the specialty cocktails with the exception of any alcohol, which is the responsibility of the participant. Additional events within the Chefs’ Event Reimagined food series include Cupcake Decorating, BBQ and Brew and Artisanal Breads.

Those interested can register for one or all four events at a discounted price by visiting www.weekendbackpacks.org/forourkids. To learn more about Weekend Backpacks and how to get involved, visit www.weekendbackpacks.org.

About Weekend Backpacks

Weekend Backpacks is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to combating child hunger by providing bags of food to vulnerable youth and their families in Baltimore City. With approximately 300 volunteers, the organization packages and delivers bags of food each week to 28 schools during the school year. Weekend Backpacks understands that no child lives in isolation and provides enough food to feed three children up to six meals on the weekend when school is not in session and food is often unavailable. Each bag contains a full box of cereal, canned vegetables, pasta, shelf milk and some form of fresh produce. At the end of the month, each bag also includes additional protein when SNAP cards are known to be low. In addition to food items, Weekend Backpacks ensures other necessities are provided throughout the year including age-appropriate school supplies, hygiene products, toiletries, hats and gloves and small tokens to give parents or guardians over the holidays. The cost of one backpack is $10 or donors can choose to sponsor a child for the entire school year for $400. For more information, visit www.weekendbackpacks.org.