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Lutheran Social Services

Great Plains Food Bank partners with organizations to address childhood hunger

Fargo, N.D. - (December 18, 2014) – There are students in our area who rely on backpacks filled with food to get them through the weekend. The Great Plains Food Bank, a program of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, partners with organizations around North Dakota and in Clay County, Minn. to offer the BackPack Program in an effort to tackle childhood hunger. The program gathers funds and kid friendly foods to fill backpacks with snacks and meals. The backpacks are delivered to elementary schools and sent home with children in need each week with enough food to sustain them through the weekend.

“As we work to end childhood hunger, we are so grateful for the generosity and passion of those within the community and especially within the schools,” said Cathy Herbold, Great Plains Food Bank programs manager. “Together we are able to provide for children in need so that they are able to reach their potential.”

Among the organizations the GPFB partners with to end childhood hunger include:
-The Bridges Backpack Program, one of the newest in the state, which started distributing weekend food in October. They currently serve 152 students in the Valley City area.

-Northern Cass School in Hunter, which currently serves 38 students in its K-12 building. Students receive a bag consisting of enough food for two days to take home during a regular weekend.

-The BackPack Program started through Mayville United Ministry, which was locally developed by the outreach team called Micah Mission.

Bridges Backpack Program intends to send home a larger package over the holiday break, but coordinators know they cannot provide enough food for the entire break.

“We didn’t realize until recently how strongly the teachers and parents of Valley City support this program,” said Pastor Dayne Zachrison with the Bridges BackPack Program. “We appreciate everyone’s support, and will continue to serve the children of our community for years to come.”

"The BackPack Program is an great help in assuring students have an opportunity to get the food and nutrients they need when they are not in school,” said Crysta Wagner, elementary principal at Northern Cass School in Hunter, N.D. “I encourage anyone wanting to support this cause to make a donation. Each dollar makes the difference for a family in our own county!"

“One thing that we kept coming back to in our group during brainstorming ways to help was that there are children in our own communities that are hungry,” said Julie Tillberg, Micah Mission volunteer. “I have such appreciation for the community support – it’s been amazing.”

The group started distributing backpacks at the elementary school level and expanded to the middle school, now serving 40 students all. During its first year of service in the BackPack Program, Micah Mission has raised more than $9,000 to help feed children in its school district. The program has added a fresh fruit or vegetable option when available.

“As we work to end childhood hunger, we are so grateful for the generosity and passion of those within the community and especially within the schools,” said Cathy Herbold, Great Plains Food Bank programs manager. “Together we are able to provide for children in need so that they are able to reach their potential.”

Currently it costs $5.00 to fill a backpack with milk, juice, snacks, and food for three meals. Sponsorship of a child for an entire year costs $190. The top five food items the BackPack Program looks for are: individual 4-6 ounce juice boxes, granola bars (individually labeled), individual cereal boxes (individually labeled), mandarin oranges, and Easy Mac (individual portions).

Our Impact This Year

  • Kids Healing Through Trauma Therapy

    500

  • Families in Affordable Homes

    893

  • Kids Made Amends With Youth Court

    200

  • Child Care Providers Improved Through Online Classes

    5,000

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