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Food for Thought: Weekend Backpack Program, FORK Expand to Phelps


Schools provide some children with free breakfast and lunch, but what happens when the weekend rolls around?

The Weekend Backpack Program started with one child and one bag filled with a weekend’s worth of food.

Since then, the program has grown to encompass children across multiple school districts, including – most recently – Phelps.

Last week, Feed Our Rural Kids announced its expansion into the Phelps school district.

To meet the needs of that community, they’re partnering with the Weekend Backpack Program.

FORK is funding the expansion, and the Weekend Backpack Program is distributing the food.

“It has to be a whole community partnership and finally all those pieces fell into place,” said Andrea Fluegel, the Weekend Backpack Program’s coordinator. “We want to make sure every student gets fed. If they need the food, we’ll find a way.”

Half of the students in Phelps receive free or reduced-price lunches.

Fluegel said they’re willing to help all of these students receive enough food when they’re not at school.

A dozen Phelps students are already receiving Weekend Backpacks.

And if a student is interested in signing up, it’s easy.

“They just have to tell a teacher or people’s services at the school or the front office at the school, and they get put on the program no questions asked,” Fluegel said.

She said the process is simple because when parents have to fill out paperwork, they’re less likely to participate.

By removing barriers, the Weekend Backpack Program hopes to include as many children as possible.

That way every child can come to school on Monday nourished, strong and with an appetite only for learning.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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