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Feeding Our Kids

By Staff | Jul 23, 2015

A?program targeting hunger in the community received a vote of support from the Emmetsburg Community School Board of Directors during the July Board meeting on Wednesday, July 15.

“Feed Our Kids” is a program designed to send a week’s worth of meals for a child home at the end of a school week in a backpack that is returned to school the following week.

Cindy Magee, Katie Heddinger, Angie Strohman and Tricia Reichert appeared before the board to explain the program, which is currently operating in the Spencer Community School District.

“A couple of weeks ago, a group of about 30 of us got together,” Cindy Magee said. “There were people from churches, the schools, ISU?Extension, Upper Des Moines and even a representative from the World Food Prize Committee. In talking, we were unanimous that there is a need for a program like this in Emmetsburg.”

Studies have shown that children who receive adequate nourishment are healthier, have better focus in the classroom, have better study habits and are less likely to miss class.

“We know many elementary teachers here who can tell you from personal experience that there are kids who are hungry,” noted Tricia Reichert. “I’ve had kids in my room for extra help, but they’re really coming in for something to eat because there isn’t much for them at home.”

According to Angie Strohman of ISU?Extension, the program entails packing food for four individual meals and two snacks for a student in pre-school through fifth grades. The program would also include the Emmetsburg Catholic School as well.

“There are 153 homes below the poverty level in Palo Alto County,”?Strohman noted. “And there were 758 students in the Emmetsburg Community School District in 2014-15. We have identified and targeted 115 children for this program.”

According to Strohman, the financial cost of the program is roughly $3,000 per month, or about $6.20 per week per student served.

“We’re not trying to compete with organizations like UDMO or anything like that,” Magee assured the board. “We’re just meeting the need to fill in a need.”

Confidentiality of the program has also been planned. “Families receiving this would be anonymous to our committee,” Strohman pointed out. “The elementary teachers would be the ones who would actually place the food packages into a backpack at the end of the school week. The classroom teachers know who needs the help and are really the best source of referral for us as well.”

The group noted that they have visited with organizers of Spencer’s Backpack program, learning how the system works, what works well and what didn’t work as well.

“You mentioned $3,000 a month for this program,” commented School Board Member Scott Kibbie. “Is Spencer’s cost the same or is that $3,000 a flat fee?”

“Spencer’s program is much larger and their yearly budget is $40,000 a year,” Magee answered. “Who you serve in the program is based on the Free and reduced lunch programs to start with, then the individual classroom teachers and the building principals become part of the selection process, but it will be the teachers making the contacts.”

“What exactly are you asking of us as a board?” asked Board President BJ Schany. “Are you asking for funding, what exactly do you need from us?”

“All we are asking of the board is your support of this program, since the elementary teachers will be involved,” Magee said. “We’re not asking for money. This will be based on community donations and we’ve already received a couple of good donations to get us started. All of the churches in the community are on board with this, and everyone has been very supportive.”

“I think this is a great deal for the kids, because we know there are kids that don’t get enough food when they aren’t in school.”

Board Members Kim Campbell and Kathy Roethler moved and seconded the board’s support for the Feed Our Kids Emmetsburg program and the motion earned unanimous approval of the board members.