The start of school is just around the corner, and soon schools will be filled with children, eager to learn. Unfortunately, many of these schools will also have students with empty stomachs.
Children at risk of hunger are provided free or reduced meals through the National School Lunch Program. While this program effectively combats hunger during the school day, it does not address the needs of children when school is not in session. This is where Feeding South Dakota’s BackPack Program steps in. The BackPack Program provides at-risk children with access to easy-to-prepare meals, healthy snacks, and milk during weekends and holidays.
“The BackPack Program meets a critical need for children in South Dakota,” says Allison Struck, BackPack Program Coordinator at Feeding South Dakota. “Not only does the food help fill the hunger gap that exists from Friday evenings until Monday mornings, but it also ensures children are ready to learn when they return to the classroom.”
Feeding South Dakota surveyed parents of children participating in the BackPack Program and found that the program helped improve students overall health, behavior, and in some cases even student grades benefitted. Research shows that when children lack access to food, their cognition and academics, emotional and social well-being, and health are all adversely affected.
Feeding South Dakota Needs Your Help
This coming school year, Feeding South Dakota is projecting to serve 5,300 children in 70 schools each week through the BackPack Program and is asking for help to meet the increasing child hunger need.
“It costs $150 to feed one child for an entire school year”, said Struck. Timing is critical to raise the needed funds to ensure that every child in need receives a BackPack for the 2017/18 school year.
Thanks to a generous donation by SDSU Football Coach John Stiegelmeier and wife Laurie all donations made by July 31 will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $10,000.
“There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing that each one of us can do something so small to help some of the most vulnerable in our communities,” said Coach Stiegelmeier. “A gift today can make a huge impact in the life of a child in need.”
“The best time to give is now”, said Struck. “You can double your impact and not just improve children’s ability to access food, but also their future opportunities for success in life.”
Donations can be made online at FeedingSouthDakota.org, mailed to 4701 N. Westport Ave., Sioux Falls, 57107, Attn: Jennifer Robertson (reference Stiegelmeier matching gift in the memo line), and over the phone by calling 605-335-0364.
About Feeding South Dakota
Feeding South Dakota, whose mission is to eliminate hunger in South Dakota, is the state’s largest charitable hunger relief organization with distribution centers in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City. Last year, Feeding South Dakota secured and distributed over 12.5 million pounds of quality nutritious donated and purchased food providing 10.4 million meals to individuals in need. Feeding South Dakota is able to distribute this food through its network of over 350 charitable organizations across the state. These organizations then provide this food to individuals who are “food insecure” through youth programs, senior centers, on-site feeding programs, emergency food pantries, after school programs, and homeless shelters. For more information on Feeding South Dakota, please visit www.feedingsouthdakota.org.
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