Backpack Program Celebrates a Decade of Providing for Kids

Emily Ness
Updated: February 12, 2020 08:53 PM

To think about schoolwork or making friends is tough for a child suffering from hunger.


“I think it impacts kids academically, socially in school because when you’re hungry it’s just hard to function as a whole both for us as adults but also for kids,” Nicky Wilson, Coordinator of Family Support Services School District of Superior said.

To combat child hunger, the National Bank Of Commerce and the United Way of Superior and Douglass County developed the Nutrition on Weekends BackPack Program in 2010. Through the program, kids who are experiencing food insecurity, chronic hunger or homelessness are given a bag of food to take home on the weekend.

“We started to get backpacks gathered and the employees would donate food and we would fill the backpacks and get them to the school district,” Cindy Theien, Vice President of the National Bank of Commerce said. "We would have church groups, girl scout groups come in together and help us pack."

Over time, the program grew and Second Harvest Food Bank took on the role of food acquisition, volunteer packing and distribution to schools.

“We really try to make sure that there’s nutritional value in our food bags, but also that kids get treats and that it’s food that they want to eat. We ‘d rather have it eaten than not so its really important we try to balance that with kids,” Shaye Moris, Executive Director of Second Harvest Food Bank said.

Since its inception, the program expanded to serve over 1,000 kids at 44 Northland schools.

“Certainly we've heard stories about kids that have grown up through the program and just what they've achieved since then and so we're hopeful that, that was because they had access to food,” Moris said.

In addition to providing food on the weekends, the program works to provide food on holidays and breaks.

"We really try to make sure that youth programs like Boys & Girls Club or Damiano Center's kids program has access to food so that they can support those summer meals for children," Moris said.

On Wednesday, the program celebrated a decade of providing for children. During the celebration, organizers said it was hard to believe it had been ten years. Additionally, they raved about the generosity of the public that makes the program possible.

“The community has been so very supportive of this because this has been driven by the community dollars and donations,” Theien said.

"People love the backpack program. It’s probably the program that we’re most known for. You know, people love to feed kids," Moris added.

Those who would like to donate time or money to the backpack program can do so here.


Emily Ness

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