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Backpack for Hunger to feed New York Mills children

When kids don't get enough to eat, it shows in their schoolwork. "Sadly," says Gen Keranen, "kids sometimes do come to school hungry."

Sometimes, the best way for a needy child to get a meal is at school. However, school doesn't feed children on the weekends. Backpack for Hunger, which will be starting this September in New York Mills, will be solving this problem by sending food home to children in their backpacks.

This program has already been implemented in Perham, Detroit Lakes, and Wadena, and has been very successful. Teachers report better concentration in the students who get meals from Backpack for Hunger.

Children who need meals on the weekends are identified by teachers, who pass this information onto a counselor. The counselor gives the locker numbers to volunteers, who go to the lockers and fill the bags every Friday.

The children are given individual packs of food, which consists items like shelf milk, canned food, macaroni and cheese, snacks, and a fruit cup. There is enough food to last for two meals, so the child will be able to eat for the weekend.

The food will be obtained from North Country Food Bank, but it costs about $150 per child per school year. There will be about 25 students in the program, with grades kindergarten to sixth grade. "This means we will be missing the older kids, but we are just starting out," says Gen Keranen.

Backpack for Hunger is being helped by the churches of New York Mills, and has many people involved. However, help is always needed. Donations should go to Wadena Otter Tail Community Action Council.

"The committee has also been working and cooperating with the school," says Keranen, "and Jake Norton has been printing and distributing flyers in the local churches. Seip Drug has also helped by giving us a room to store food."

Volunteers are also always needed to help fill and distribute the bags. Those wishing to volunteer should contact Gen Keranen at 218-385-2450.