Grand Rapids, MN – This summer, Second Harvest North Central Food Bank is working to end hunger in a way that they have never been able to do before. Thanks to a grant funded by Hunger Solutions Minnesota, Second Harvest is able to provide weekly Summer Kids Packs to food insecure children in the region.
“This grant couldn’t have come at a better time,” says Susan Estee, Executive Director of Second Harvest. “Just last week the updated Map the Meal Gap study results were released and it showed that there has been improvement, but we still have almost 9,000 food insecure children in our region. That is unacceptable and illustrates that our services are more important than ever. ”
During the school year, approximately 303,000 Minnesota children receive free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. However, when the school year ends, only about 20 percent of these kids continue to access similar meal programs over the summer. That means that for nearly three months out of every year, children in Minnesota are not getting the nourishment they need.
Second Harvest has been operating the Kids Packs to Go BackPack Program since 2005, when they distributed 35 packs to one school, once a month. The Kids Packs program continues to grow every year, and with each pack costly roughly $2.75, the program comes with a hefty price. During the 2012/2013 school year, Second Harvest distributed 2,200 packs to 23 schools, once per month. With the funding from this grant, Second Harvest is providing 11,400 Kids Packs to children in need, throughout the summer months, when school meals are not available. The Summer Kids Packs will be delivered once a month to the participating sites and distributed weekly by the site coordinator.
Sue says, “This was a last minute opportunity, but certainly one we could not pass up. The community is rallying to help us get the Summer Kids Packs ready for distribution to ten organizations throughout our region. Providing food to children in need is always a priority.”
This grant was made available to the Feeding America Food Banks in Minnesota by Hunger Solutions Minnesota. The funds were provided by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Communities in participating in the summer kids pack grant are: International Falls, Cass Lake, Longville, Grand Rapids, Coleraine/Bovey, Hill City, Bigfork, Brainerd, and Crosby.