The concept is simple enough for a kindergartner to understand: If someone is hungry, give them food. That’s exactly what students at Alphonsus Academy and Center for the Arts, 1439 W. Wellington Ave., are doing this year through their partnership with Blessings in a Backpack. Alphonsus Academy students are packing up food for 50 students at Holy Angels School, 750 E. 40th St., to take home every weekend. The food packages are meant to nourish students who normally receive meals at school and might not have enough food at home. The project came together seamlessly, with Erin Kerr, chief development officer for Blessings in a Backpack, having her two sons enrolled at Alphonsus Academy, and Megan Stanton-Anderson, former principal at Alphonsus Academy now working with Holy Angels and other South Side schools as part of the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Schools. Mandy Moody, Alphonsus Academy’s director of development and communications, said the project fit the school’s goal of providing meaningful service opportunities for the students. “We wanted to do something that they could get their hands involved in,” she said. “It’s an active way of living out their Catholic faith, and hopefully it will make a lasting impression. We want them to be involved in doing service for many years to come.” It can be difficult to find meaningful service projects for children, Kerr said. “But anyone of any age can pack bags, and they can do it anywhere. It’s a very powerful project for students to do.” The food that goes home with Holy Angels students — usually two breakfasts, two snacks and two entrees — is purchased at cost from Mariano’s, using grant money from Northwestern University’s Dance Marathon, Kerr said, but she hopes that Alphonsus Academy will be able to continue once that grant runs out. Alphonsus Academy students and parents pack and deliver bags once a month, and they are distributed to students every weekend. Siobhan Cafferty, principal at Holy Angels, said the food in the packages is kid-friendly, meaning they like it and older students can prepare it themselves if necessary. “They’re really excited to get it,” she said. “It’s such an unbelievable support for families.” Because the school doesn’t want to call attention to particular students, or to make them fear that their families might not be able to buy food, Cafferty emphasizes that the Blessings in a Backpack are aimed at improving nutrition by supplying healthy food for children, she said. “They love the notion that there are people out there caring about them,” Cafferty said. Holy Angels students get involved in service as well, with seventh- and eighth-grade students actually handing the packages out to younger ones, she said. Alphonsus Academy is the second Catholic school in Chicago to commit to packing meals for Blessings in a Backpack, Kerr said. Last year, Francis Xavier Warde School, 751 N. State St., joined Holy Name Cathedral parishioners in packing food for students at St. M a l a c h y School, 2252 W. Washington Blvd. With funding provided by Chicago Bear Kyle Long, Blessings in a Backpack was able to expand that effort, and now Holy Name parishioners pack food for St. Malachy and FXW volunteers pack food for Maternity BVM School, 1537 N. Lawndale. There are plenty of opportunities for other schools, parishes or other groups to get involved, Kerr said. “We definitely want to expand this,” she said. “We have a waiting list of schools in the Chicago area, and we want to feed more hungry kids.” Blessings in a Backpack was started by a teacher in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2005, who noticed that students who depended on school lunches often returned to classes hungry on Monday mornings. It was incorporated as a non-profit in 2008, and in 2012, it received a major boost from People magazine. The organization now provides weekend food packages to more than 83,000 children in 46 states and the District of Columbia, Kerr said. Moody said the Blessings in a Backpack partnership has already led to more discussions between the two schools. Alphonsus Academy’s Christmas “Giving Tree” supplied presents for Holy Angels families, with students taking time to write greetings to their peers, and the two schools could collaborate on another service project later this year, she said. “It would be really great to get all of the kids together,” she said.