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Inspiring others to action

book coverJennie Hodge and Nancy Franz want to help you make a positive impact in your community, so they’ve written a book.

Changing the World One Backpack at a Time outlines the history of a feeding program housed at St. Michael Lutheran Church in Blacksburg, Va.

Jody Smiley, Women of the ELCA executive board vice president, said the program began in her congregation, St. Michael, “but has grown more into a community effort.”

Hodge and Franz were both members of St. Michael. "Nancy was active in our (Women of the ELCA congregational) unit before she moved to Iowa,” Smiley said. “Our congregational unit wasn't the driving force to start the program, but of course we support it with time and food.”

The feeding program for kids from low-resource families engages a community to action, said Jennie Hodge, former director of Micah’s Backpack, who recently moved with her family to North Carolina.

Through the book, “Nancy and I wanted to convey the possibilities for anyone who has big dreams of making a positive impact in their community,” Hodge said. “By telling the history and philosophy of Micah’s Backpack we hope to inspire others to action.”

Women of the ELCA congregational units could use it as a model for applying for a Raising Up Healthy Women and Girls seed grant, Smiley suggested. (Applications for seed grants will open later this fall.)

“Our story is especially compelling for those working to decrease hunger or improve food security,” Franz said.

The book, Changing the World One Backpack at a Time, “provides encouragement and information for community organizers looking to begin a helping program or improve their current outreach,” according to the book’s news release.

To date, Micah’s Backpack has shared over 404,000 meals with kids from low-resource families in the area. Micah’s Backpack works with more than 300 community partners, including 10 local schools, to ensure that hungry children have food to eat and the knowledge that their community cares about them.

A few years ago, the program expanded to summertime to include Micah’s Mobile Backpack, a kids’ food pantry on wheels. Besides weekend meals, it delivers fresh produce and teachers volunteer to distribute summer reading materials.  

St. Michael now has Micah's Caring Initiative (micahci.org) that has the backpack program, Micah's closet and Soup for Seniors, Smiley said.

“We have quite a few women from our unit who were active in the creation and implementation of the Soup for Seniors feeding program,” she said. “Once a month we deliver a bag of food to about 100 folks that are in HUD housing at the retirement facility near our church.”


Photo of book cover used with permission from Jennie Hodge.