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Governor’s proclamation declares this week “Feed Our Rural Kids Week”

Kids and teens younger than 18 make up about 21% of Wisconsin’s population, yet 40% of Wisconsinites that face hunger are children.

Feed Our Rural Kids President Perry Pokrandt says kids living in rural areas can face unique challenges when it comes to food insecurity.

He gave an example of the average household income being roughly 10% lower in places like Vilas and Oneida Counties, but the cost of meals is often higher than statewide averages.

“Those two factors working against each other really create a tough time for parents,” said Pokrandt.

It was because of challenges like this that FORK was created in the first place, to try and help fill that gap and make sure kids weren’t going hungry.

Governor Evers made a proclamation that May 15-21, 2023 is Feed Our Rural Kids Week.

The proclamation reads in part, “This week, the state of Wisconsin joins Feed Our Rural Kids in reflecting on the challenges facing kids and families in rural communities, particularly in northern Wisconsin, and in calling on individuals and organizations across the state to advocate for rural kids from food insecure homes.”

Pokrandt says the proclamation is important because it means FORK’s message is being heard.

“The Governor proclaiming Feed Our Rural Kids week in Wisconsin doesn’t just talk to FORK and Vilas and Oneida County. It talks to the challenge of food insecurity across the state. We, you could say, just got lucky to be singled out as I guess the tip of the spear in that message,” said Pokrandt.

97% of Wisconsin is considered rural by the U.S. Census definition.

Pokrandt hopes this proclamation inspires people to look at what’s happening in their own community.

“That kids who are challenged by food insecurity have no control over the circumstances of which they’re being brought up. In many cases, parents don’t have any control or much control either. To that point, we’re just trying to help kids all compete and all be successful on an even playing field,” he said.

You can learn more about FORK’s mission and how to support on FORK’s website.

Part of FORK’s mission to fight food insecurity among children is to other programs and organizations through its endowment fund.

During the month of May FORK is trying to raise money for the Northwoods Backpack Program.

Students that qualify can get free breakfasts and lunches on school days.

But when they go home for the weekend, meals can be inconsistent.

The Northwoods Backpack Programs send bags full of food home with kids each weekend.

The programs are run by Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church, Faith Lutheran Church, and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.

They provide food for children in the Northland Pines, Three Lakes, and Phelps School Districts.

FORK doesn’t run the backpack program but is working to support it through its FORK Endowment Fund.

“The backpack program is just something that supplements the family’s effort to support their children through the weekend just making sure that there is something there, all the time,” said Pokrandt.

FORK is matching donations to the backpack program up to $10,000.

Donations need to be made during the month of May.

You can donate onlineor through the mail at:

FORK/ Weekend Backpack Program

4887 Echo Ridge Dr.

Eagle River WI 54521

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.