Spreading Smiles

Appears in the October 2022 issue.

Dentist Fariha Querishi always has been passionate about helping children in need. So when she opened Seven Bridges Dental Studio (6325 Main St., Woodridge) in July, she decided to incorporate a charitable aspect in her business. Every time a new patient joins her practice, Querishi donates three weekends worth of meals to a child facing food insecurity. “I had a vision for what I wanted to do as far as opening up my dental practice, and I didn’t want it to be just about dentistry,” she says. “I wanted it to have an impact on the community and really make a difference.”

It’s hard to focus on learning and just being a kid when you’re worried about where or when you’ll get your next meal. Querishi works with Blessings in a Backpack, a national nonprofit that provides food on the weekends for children who rely on free school meals during the week. “Many people think children facing food insecurity are only in Chicago. That’s not the case. The children we are helping are right here in Downers Grove, Aurora, and Wheaton,” she says. “Every time I do something for my own children, part of me feels sad that there are other children without the same resources. I want to be able to provide as much as I can for those children in the community.”

She hopes her efforts draw attention to food-insecurity issues in this area and how organizations like Blessings in a Backpack work to alleviate them. “We also have a plaque in our lobby reminding patients that our commitment to Blessings in a Backpack is an important part of our practice and that they are a big part of it as well,” she explains. “I want Blessings in a Backpack to be in the forefront of their minds.”

Looking to the future, Querishi plans to host meal-packing events and other opportunities for patients to get involved with the charity. “I really want it to be a community feel, like we are all working together to make a difference,” she says. 

Back the Pack

Sometimes the contents of a backpack can be life changing. Blessings in a Backpack sends kids home on Fridays with a backpack full of satisfying and nutritional food. The nonprofit started with just one Kentucky school in 2005 and now distributes more than 3 million bags of food per school year through more than 1,100 program locations across the country in 46 states and Washington, D.C. For more info, visit blessingsinabackpack.org.