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Challenge grant raises money for local weekend backpack programs


In 2015, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Eagle River was made aware of a third grader that was not eating on the weekends.

“That was just something we couldn't live with,” said Sandy Bishop. She and some others with the church started providing meals to that student.

Then that one student grew to a few more and then a few more, until Prince of Peace was running a weekend backpack program through the Northland Pines School District.

Bishop is the program coordinator.

“I don't know who these families are, who these kids are, and I don't need to know. They just give me a number, and these are packed weekly by community volunteers,” said Bishop.

Every week they package up bags of food full of non-perishable microwave meals like Chef Boyardee, oatmeal, mac and cheese, and ramen as well as some snack food for 112 children throughout the district.

The rise in grocery prices means more people are looking to supplement their groceries anyway they can.

It also means the cost to provide food for children on the weekends has gone up.

The weekend backpack program runs solely on donations. To help cover the costs of the backpack program run by Prince of Peace as well as others that serve the Three Lakes and Phelps School Districts, Feed Our Rural Kids is offering a matching grant challenge.

All funds raised in support of area backpack programs during the month of May will be matched up to $15,000.

“This FORK challenge that they're doing for us is huge. Our budget now, it runs around $30,000 to $32,000 a school year,” said Bishop.

The challenge money comes from FORK’s endowment fund. You can learn how to donate by visiting the Feed Our Rural Kids website.

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