What started as conversation over a year ago to help battle hunger in the community of Langdon, the Week-END Kids’ Hunger Project is now preparing for its second year of assisting students who are hungry on the weekends.
By Melissa Anderson
“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,” the Week-END Kids’ Hunger Project committee said. “This program is free-of-charge to students whose parent(s) request it and give permission.”
Over the 2016-2017 school year, Week-END Kids’ Hunger Project delivered on average between 25 to 30 kits to students at Langdon Area Elementary School (LAES) and St. Alphonsus Elementary School. At the close of the first year in action, a total of 781 kits had been given to students to help keep them full on the weekends.
Overall, the first year went rather smoothly for the new organization and they met all of their goals, which was to raise awareness of the problem, as well as raising funds and creating a delivery system.
“The delivery went great and we had tremendous support,” the committee members shared.
Leading up to the first year that Week-END Kids’ Hunger Project started, the committee had a goal of raising $10,000 to get them through the first year and hopefully have some funds leading into its second. Through the efforts of the hardworking volunteers in the community and the committee, they were able to surpass that goal and raised over $11,500 thanks to donations from businesses, residents, church congregations, and other charity organizations.
“We’ve been well supported this first year and hope for that to continue,” the committee said.
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 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,” the committee stated.
Students’ parents at LAES and St. Alphonsus are 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,” the committee said
The food, which is pre-packed healthy, nutritious meals and snacks, comes from the Great Plains Food Bank in Fargo. From there, the kits travel to Langdon, arriving at the Cavalier County Emergency Food Pantry for delivery and are then stored at Thriven Financial until it’s time to take the kits the students lockers. The food kits are anonymously delivered to the designated students locker on Fridays, or just before a break, providing the student with food for the weekend.
Leading into its second year, the Week-END Kids’ Hunger Project is hoping to be able to expand their ability to help hungry kids in the community by also providing weekend food kits to those in junior and senior high school.
“We are currently working towards covering the entire school system, meaning kindergarten to seniors,” the committee shared.
“We are also hoping to look at summer in the future,” they added.
The committee has had numerous people involved on some level but the core committee members are Deb Balsdon, Pastor Karl Breddin, Susie Borgen, Kathy Downs, Rachelle Fetsch, Junell Jonasson, Adrian Olson, Sarah Overby, Sherrif Romfo, and Pastor Justin Schnackenberg.
The Week-END Kids’ Hunger Project committee wishes to say thank you to the community, individuals and businesses for their generous support of their efforts to combat childhood hunger.
If you would like to help end weekend hunger for youth in the area, please feel free to send your tax-free donations 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.