FORT MYERS, Fla. (August 22, 2013) – Blessings in a Backpack recently received $350 from the Veranda restaurant in downtown Fort Myers as part of the restaurant’s 35th Anniversary celebration.

Blessings in a Backpack is just one of six nonprofits that will receive $350 courtesy of the Veranda from May 1 to Oct. 31, 2013 for their work in feeding the hungry in Southwest Florida.

In addition to Blessings in a Backpack, the charities include Community Cooperative Ministries Inc., the Harry Chapin Food Bank, F.I.S.H. of Sanibel, the Salvation Army’s Sally’s Café and the Nation’s Association Charities, Inc.

“Being in the food industry, we are very aware of the great work many local agencies are doing each day to feed our hungry citizens,” said Craig Peden. “While we are thanking our patrons for 35 great years, we also wanted to give back to our community that still has thousands of citizens who aren’t sure where their next meal will come from.”

According to Peden, the restaurant will be donating $350 to a different food-related local charity each month and $3,500 of in-kind services.

“We are extremely grateful to all of our patrons who have helped us achieve this 35-year milestone,” said Paul Peden, who owns and operates the restaurant with his son Craig. “We wanted to do something special to celebrate which is why we chose monthly drawings during a six-month period.”

Blessings in a Backpack is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. This unique program is designed to provide weekend nourishment to children grades K-5 in Title 1 schools who qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Meal Program. Blessings in a Backpack started with serving three elementary schools in Kentucky and now serves more than 50 schools across the nation. Currently, Tice Elementary and Edgewood Academy are local schools supported by the organization.

“An $80 donation will feed a child for one full school year,” said Scott Fischer, board chair of Blessings in a Backpack of Southwest Florida. “Donations of all sizes are welcome and will stay local to ensure our community’s students get the nourishment they need.”

From May 1 to Oct. 31, 2013, dinner patrons at the Veranda restaurant, located at 2122 Second Street in downtown Fort Myers, are also able to enter a monthly drawing for a $350 gift certificate. On Nov. 1, 2013, the Veranda will also draw for a grand prize from all previous entrants for a $3,500 house account at the restaurant.

Roger and Cathy Dougan of Bonita Springs were the winners of the July drawing for a $350 gift certificate to the Veranda.

Veranda dinner patrons can enter the drawings by completing an entry form provided with their guest check. Diners can enter each time they dine at the Veranda from May 1 through Oct. 31, 2013 to increase their chances of winning.

The Veranda restaurant features Southern regional cuisine with a full bar, extensive wine list and first-class service in a romantic setting. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. A mid-day menu is served Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. Dinner is served Monday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. Private dining is also available from 10 to 400 guests. Live entertainment is featured in the Veranda’s piano lounge Wednesday through Saturday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30. Valet or street parking is available.

For reservations and more information, call 239-332-2065 or visit