What is Buddy Backpacks?
UWNEMN's Buddy Backpack program provides a backpack filled with nutritious, nonperishable, child-friendly food items to children who are at-risk of going hungry over the weekends. During the 2015-16 school year, Buddy Backpacks will help fight weekend hunger by providing these food kits to more than 750 children on the Iron Range and in Koochiching County each Friday or holiday break from school. The program provides nourishment for food-insecure children so that they can come back to school on Monday mornings ready to learn, grow and thrive.
What is the need?
Poverty levels continue to rise throughout our service territories, with more than 47% of our children qualifying for free or reduced lunch. Teachers and school nurses have shared many stories of children returning to school Monday after a weekend without enough to eat. Many of these children complain of stomach cramps, headaches and dizziness. Some have a decreased attention span or lack enthusiasm to learn because they are concentrating on their hunger more than learning. While during the school week these children rely on the nutritious free or reduced breakfast and lunch programs, but the same cannot be said for weekends and school breaks. Children that are hungry are affected in many different ways:
• They suffer from iron deficiencies, affecting cognitive and physical development
• They are twice as likely to repeat a grade in school
• As teens, are five times more likely to commit suicide
We Need Your Support...
To operate Buddy Backpacks, we rely on volunteers to help us pack more than 25,000 each year. Volunteering to pack food kits is a great individual opportunity and is also a perfect team-building experience. To view available dates and to register, please visit our Get Connected site today.
We also need your support at any level to fund the program. Sponsoring one child for the year costs $180 - just $15 per month! Please support Buddy Backpacks through payroll deduction at your workplace, donate online today, or send donations to UWNEMN, 229 W Lake Street, Chisholm, MN 55719.