A new program designed to help end children’s hunger is starting thanks to the efforts of hardworking volunteers in the community.
Posted on 7/16/16
By Melissa Anderson
The Week-END Kids’ Hunger project was started by Deb Balsdon, a former social worker, who became aware of a growing issue of children in need within the Langdon Area community.
What started as conversation has quickly turned into a full fledged effort of concerned members of the community who formed a committee in May to help those children in the Langdon Area that face long, hungry weekends.
“Our goal is to help provide food for kids for weekends during the school year, when free and reduced meals are not available at school,” Pastor Karl Breddin, a founding member of project, said, “This will be free-of-charge to students whose parent(s) request it and give permission.”
During the school year, free and reduced meals provided through state/federal funding help alleviate some of this hunger. A surprising and concerning number of students at the area elementary schools are taking advantage of these meals.
In the 2015-16 school year, of 427 students enrolled at Langdon Area Elementary School (LAES), St. Alphonsus Elementary School, and Langdon Area High School (LAHS), 19.2 percent of these were eligible for free meals and 11.2 percent were eligible for reduced meals.
“Child hunger is a challenge facing our community. We are in the breadbasket of America, yet each night many young people in Langdon go to bed hungry. Our project will help provide food during weekends,” Breddin said.
Students’ parents at LAES and St. Alphonsus will be provided information on the program during fall orientations. If parents sign a request form, giving permission for their child(ren) at these schools to participate, they will be enrolled.
“Our goal is for parents to be able to sign-up with fall school orientation, with food distribution beginning shortly thereafter,” Breddin said.
The organization will ordering pre-packed healthy, nutritious meals and snacks from the Great Plains Food Bank, in Fargo. Orders will be placed approximately once per month, and shipped to the Cavalier County Emergency Food Pantry. The Cavalier County Emergency Food Pantry is the umbrella organization for the Week-END Kids’ Hunger Project.
“It gives us access to an already established, respected service in our community,” Breddin explained, “It also allows us to be under their 501(c)3 non-profit status for tax and fundraising purposes.”
From there, the pre-packed food will be stored with Thrivent Financial where, toward the end of each week, volunteers will bring the pre-packaged food to the two schools, where they will discretely be placed in students’ lockers for their use over the weekend.
“We need funding to make this possible,” Breddin stated.
The cost of the program is approximately $5 per student, per weekend. The committee has a goal to raise $10,000 for the 2016-17 school year.
“This is a large figure, but we want to aim high, and really will have no way of knowing how many children will take part until school starts,”
Some examples of how far that goal amount of money can go are as follows: $50 supports a child for one school quarter; $200 supports a child for the school year; $1,000 supports five children for the entire school year.
With 37 weeks in a school year, the cost is $185 per week for the program per child but the organizers are estimating the cost at $200 to compensate for longer weekends and breaks.
“We encourage people to think $200, so that we can add a little extra for long weekends and breaks during the school year,” Breddin said.
With the rules and regulations now finalized, the group of volunteers is focusing on insuring that funding for the program is secured.
“We are applying for some grants, but literally every dollar is important,” Breddin said, “Our committee is fully made up of volunteers so all money goes directly to helping hungry kids in our community.”
The committee already has a kickstarter fundraiser planned. A Root Beer Float Fundraiser is set for July 23, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in front of the Thrivent Financial office on Main Street in Langdon.
The root beer float fundraiser was decided upon since root beer floats would be perfect for the crowd that will be uptown at that time during Music Fest weekend.
“We wanted a fun and easy way to get the word out, and thought this would be a good way to kick off local fundraising for the program,” fellow committee member Sarah Overby said.
The floats will be free-will donation, but more importantly the committee hopes to get the “word” out there that committee is starting the program in the fall.
“Creating awareness of our community needs for a program is the biggest goal,” Overby stated.
With the primary goal of the fundraiser being raising the awareness for the new program the committee has no projected goal for the root beer float fundraiser. A Thrivent “Action Team” is to thank for the funds to purchase all of the supplies.
“Our office is happy to be a big supporter of this program and plan to provide food storage space for the program since the food pantry will not have enough room,” Overby said, “It is not an expectation, but hopefully when other individuals and businesses start to understand how much need we really do have in the community, they will want to help us to kick start the program.”
Tax-free donations may be made and sent to the Cavalier County Emergency Food Pantry, PO Box 630, in Langdon. Please include “Week-END Kids’ Hunger Project” in the memo line of any checks or accompanying any cash donations.
Be sure to stop by the Thrivent Financial office located on Main Street Langdon between 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on the July 23 to help the Week-END Kids’ Hunger program.