Non-profit works to end food scarcity for kids throughout the state with weekend meals

Local News

A local non-profit is helping out to make sure kids have enough to eat. This year they helped students in 10 counties throughout North Dakota.

When Backpacks for Kids started 15 years ago, they didn’t expect to end the 2021 school year by providing 30,000 bags of food. The director of this program, Lori Hillestad, said that the school decides which students are eligible.

“It’s generally whoever qualifies for free or reduced meals,” said Hillestad.

Community Action started this program to address food insecurities in local schools.

“It’s to help with food insecurities. It’s to make sure that the kids don’t go hungry over the weekends while they’re not in school and during extended school breaks I try to incorporate extra food items,” explained Hillestad.

Hillestad said that the focus of the program has shifted since the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of families in need increased, so instead of just giving the kids snacks, she started sending family-sized meals home.

“I’ve just incorporated bigger food items that will help supplement the entire family,” Hillestad said.

The program is 100 percent non-profit. Everything donated stays within the program. Volunteers usually fill the bags with about eight different items and another group drops them off to students on Friday at school.

“The community has been a tremendous help. If it weren’t for our local community, we would be struggling,” said Hillestad. “You can go to our Facebook page, Backpacks for Kids-Community Action. There’s a link on there.”

For more information on how you can donate and volunteer, click here.

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