Cultivate’s weekend backpack program that provides students in St. Joseph, Elkhart, and Marshall counties with nutritious, frozen meals in insulated backpacks every Friday, is going to be featured on the Rachael Ray Show. This episode will air on Thursday, November 14, 2019, at 9 am EST on CBS/WSBT.

The backpack program began in February as a pilot at Madison STEAM Academy in South Bend with 100 students. Before the program started, Principal Deb Martin says, “students were running into school on Monday mornings for breakfast because they hadn’t had a decent meal all weekend”. Now, thanks to generous partners such as the University of Notre Dame and the Kelly Cares Foundation, these kids are well-fed over the weekend and come to school on Monday mornings ready to learn instead of desperate for breakfast. 


In March 2019, through a 2018-19 Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce Leadership Academy project, Cultivate was selected by a group that made it their mission to bring the backpack program to Elkhart County.  Natalie Bickel, Supervisor of Student Services/Attendance Officer for Elkhart Community Schools and a member of the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Academy was instrumental in orchestrating this connection.  


The hard work from the team brought the pilot to Woodland Elementary School, part of Elkhart Community Schools, with 20 students receiving weekend meals in insulated backpacks for the remainder of the school year. 


Local South Bend station WSBT covered the pilot program at Woodland Elementary and their video gained national attention with over 12 million views.  Thousands reached out, including Rachael Ray from “the Rachael Ray Show.


Cultivate’s Co-founder and General Manager, Randy Z was a featured guest on the Rachael Ray show, along with Natalie Bickel of Elkhart Community Schools to talk about the partnership between Cultivate and Elkhart Community Schools and the positive impact it is having on students.


This episode will air on Thursday, November 14, 2019, at 9 am EST. Tune in to learn more.