Matching Grant Secured to Support Buddy Backpacks

United Way of Northeastern Minnesota (UWNEMN) is excited to announce that through community giving, a matching funds grant of $10,000 will be awarded by the Otto Bremer Foundation to support the Buddy Backpack program in Koochiching County.  The Otto Bremer Foundation made a commitment to match dollar for dollar up to $10,000 of all contributions received by the United Way for the program in a one year time period beginning August 1st, 2103. UWNEMN attained that goal by December 31st, 2013.  To reach the goal UWNEMN received incredible support from the Koochiching County business community, as well as from individuals, associations, foundations, and other United Way chapters throughout the state.

With the permanent reduction of 265 jobs at Boise Paper, UWNEMN projected an increased need for the Buddy Backpack program.  As a result of an outpouring of financial support by the community, 120 children in Koochiching County are receiving weekly backpacks filled with nonperishable, child-friendly, nutritious food throughout this school year.  The schools and programs involved include International Falls, KOOTASCA Head Start, Northome, Littlefork-Big Falls.  These children are all at risk of being hungry over the weekends and the Buddy Backpack food kits are designed to help sustain children so they can return to school on Mondays nourished and ready to learn. 

In addition to the monetary donations to the program, UWNEMN has also received in-kind contributions that support the effort.  Minnesota Industries picks up the food kits monthly from the UWNEMN warehouse in Chisholm to bring the food to International Falls, and Mike Silvers, retired Boise Paper employee and UWNEMN Advisory Board member, donates his time and truck to deliver the kits to each of the area schools who are participating. 

“We are so thankful and appreciative of all those who gave to support our community in a time of need,” said Julie Ehrman, UWNEMN Advisory Board Chair. “This program is going to help the most vulnerable children of our area and it is going to make a difference in their lives.” 

UWNEMN is grateful for the support received in Koochiching County in order to continue its efforts of combatting childhood weekend hunger through Buddy Backpacks.  For more information on the program or to find out how to be involved, please visit the UWNEMN website at