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FORK reflects on food insecurity in the Northwoods as organization hits five-year anniversary

Feed Our Rural Kids

It’s estimated more than 700 children in Vilas County are food insecure.

Feed Our Rural Kids was created five years ago to help meet the needs of those children.

“‘We're going to help feed some kids’ is really kind of a general conversation as we sat around our first board meeting. How we were going to do that no one knew at that time,” said Perry Pokrandt, President of FORK.

Pokrandt says they knew there were a lot of resources already out there, but many people that needed them may not know about them and there were gaps between what was being delivered and what children needed.

FORK’s underlying mission became finding the gaps and trying to make them smaller.

Over the last five years, FORK has created a community resource guide for people to find resources in Vilas and Oneida Counties.

It’s created an endowment fund to raise money to financially support local programs like the Weekend Backpack Program and food pantries.

It’s built and organized pantries inside schools so that teachers, parents, or guardians can grab food, no questions asked.

Pokrandt says all the work has been made possible by community members and businesses stepping up to help.

“I'd like to say thank you. Thank you to all those who have been part of this five-year journey. And I look forward to meeting all the people who are going to join us in the next five years,” said Pokrandt.

He believes all of the traction FORK has gained is because the donations stay local and they support children.

“Everybody seems to have a, we'll call it, a soft spot for children who are challenged. Whether that's through food insecurity, or academic opportunities, or health issues, people really do seem to want to step up for the kids,” said Pokrandt. “We found an aspect of the issue of food insecurity that seemingly really touched people.”

Pokrandt doesn’t believe FORK is going to solve food insecurity, he says that’s always going to be a challenge, but he believes they can mitigate the worst of it.

“FORK in the last five years has changed the dialogue. Now, maybe we're just part of a natural shift, but I know that in our area that the term ‘food insecurity’ wasn't ever even uttered. In fact, many people didn't even realize that there are children living right down the road from them, who don't know if there's dinner tonight, per se,” said Pokrandt. “I think that's the thing that we really are most proud of is that people are hearing us, people help us.”

You can learn more about FORK’s mission and how to contribute on the organization’s website.

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