Program aims to feed hungry kids

FAIRMONT – How can we help the whole world or even our nation if the children in our own communities lack the nutrition they need?

Sometimes we need to see the elephant in the room before we can address the problems outside.

That’s a message that WFS wants people to understand.

From 4-7 p.m. Aug. 26, the agriculture cooperative will host a freewill meal at the Five Lakes Centre parking lot in Fairmont. WFS is sponsoring a Drive for Feed Program meant to stir the community’s attention to elementary-age kids who are not getting meals at home, especially during the summer or on weekends.

“People are struggling because of the economy and sometimes food gets cut,” said Sue Baye, representative of WFS.

When the event comes to town, a couple of semis will pull up. The red semi is a portable food program that will cook and serve the food. The other is a portable movie theater. Curious participants will watch a 12-minute video. In it, former pro wrestler Bill Goldberg and musician Mark Miller explain the problems caused from lack of food.

A silent auction will begin at 4 p.m. and close at 6:45. Items will include a Traeger Grill, valued at $1,000, and a Yeti cooler valued at $400. Smaller items include a carwash kit, quilted gifts and oil changes.

Money raised from the silent auction and the freewill meals will donated to BackPack Programs throughout south-central Minnesota in 20 different communities. The BackPack Program, also supported by WFS, helps area schools get in touch with programs and brings awareness of struggling families.

Drive for Feed targets elementary kids specifically and meets the needs of the hungry by providing nutritious snacks.

In 2012-13, 64 percent of kids in Truman received reduced or free school lunches, as well as 57 percent in Granada-Huntley-East Chain and 49 percent at Fairmont Area.

If schools already have programs, WFS gives donations that will further help them provide food for kids. WFS takes into consideration the cost per student, the type of meals each school asks for and what determines who gets the food.

Baye said Granada-Huntley-East Chain is ahead of the game, but Fairmont and Truman are slow in coming into it. WFS hopes its event will shed light on how many families are in need.

Drive for Feed has gotten advice from dietitians at Second Harvest, a food bank that works with local food shelves. Baye said Second Harvest gives Drive for Feed ideas about what has worked in other states. The general items WFS supplies in the backpacks are Spaghetti-O’s, peanut butter, chili, beans, fruit cups, fruit pouches or chocolate milk boxes, a couple boxes of cereal, applesauce and other snacks containing peanut butter.

The kids take their backpacks home on weekends, because of their parents’ busy schedules. WFS keeps the meals simple enough so kids can make them on their own.

“Children who never learn because they’re hungry will probably grow up to be poor as an adult,” Baye added.

Those who would like to donate to Drive for Feed or would like more information may contact Baye at (507) 776-1243.