How Ballston Spa Gift Shop Nourish Designs is Helping Keep Capital Region Kids Fed

It was about 10 years ago that Betsy Seplowitz first began doodling nature-inspired mandala designs as a way to decrease stress. It was about six years ago that she began volunteering for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York’s BackPack Program, which provides meals to nearly 7,000 food-insecure school children across 22 counties. But it wasn’t until more recently that the Ballston Spa native realized she could marry her two passions to help even more local kids.

“One in six kids in our area does not have consistent, reliable access to healthy food,” Seplowitz says. “A little over two years ago an idea sparked in my thoughts—could I do something with my drawings that would bring awareness to food insecurity and help provide meals for kids? That was the start of Nourish.”

Every mandala on Nourish’s merchandise is hand-drawn by Seplowitz without stencils.

Seplowitz, who herself has a 15-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter, launched Nourish Designs, a brand of merchandise featuring her original mandala drawings, online and through in-person events in 2019. Despite the pandemic, business boomed, as a spotlight was shone on the number of children who rely on free, in-school breakfast and lunch programs as their only source of nourishing meals. In November 2021, Seplowitz opened a storefront in Downtown Ballston Spa, where each of her wares—everything from hoodies to stationery—is marked with both a price and the number of meals the purchase of the item will provide. The purchase of a T-shirt, for example, provides 12 meals to children in need. 

“Since we started in November 2019, Nourish has been able to provide funding for over 82,000 meals,” Seplowitz says. “One meal at a time, together with our customers, we are making a difference.”

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