Trees of Hope: The BackPack Program Benefiting Area Youth

Taylor Dayton
December 13, 2017 01:30 PM

DULUTH - The Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank operates many programs that help thousands of people across the Northland. One focus for the organization is the BackPack Program to help hungry children.

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"It's really neat," Dan Wilson said. "It really just warms your heart." Wilson in the program director at Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. He says the BackPack Program helped 1,000 children last year on a monthly basis.

The goal of the BackPack Program is to provide nutritious food for kids to take home on weekends and during school vacations. It is a way to guarantee that the children will have a nutritious meal when they are not in school.

Once a month, volunteers gather to pack about 4,000 bags of food to be sent to 37 schools across the Northland as part of the Second Harvest Backpack Program.

Staff at local schools help distribute the bags to the children.

"They help identify the kids in need, and then discretely get those bags to the kids each week, usually on a Thursday or a Friday."

Stacey Achterhoff is a Families in Transition Intervention teacher at Myers-Wilkins Elementary School. She enjoys distributing the bags to her students each week.

"It is a gift to be a part of our Friday Food Bag Program," she said.

The children receive a bag to take home each week, filled with milk, fruit, soup, cereal, and a surprise.

"At the end of last year, we had beef sticks that were like a Slim Jim," Achterhoff said. "Slim Jims were a pretty exciting thing." Achterhoff says the kids get excited to see what is available in the bags. "They look forward to it," she said.

And the food does not go unappreciated.

"It's something the kids really appreciate. They take pride in taking that responsibility for their family."

According to their website, Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank currently partners with the Duluth, Hermantown, Proctor, Esko, Cloquet, Barnum, Carlton, Moose Lake, Wrenshall, Two Harbors, Silver Bay, Grand Marais, Superior/Douglas County School and Maple/Northwestern Districts as well as the Head of the Lakes United Way, United Way of Carlton County and Superior/Douglas County among others.



Taylor Dayton

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