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Food for Backpacks helps more students in its third year

The Food for Backpacks program run by eight area churches is serving more students this year in five schools in the Albert Lea school district.

Food for Backpacks, which started as a partnering between Grace Lutheran Church and Hawthorne Elementary School and has since expanded, provides food packages for students to take home over the weekend. To be eligible for the program, all students need is a signed parent or guardian permission form.

“They just need to ask,” program volunteer and Grace Lutheran Church member Julie Drommerhausen said.

This year, the program is serving over 420 students between the middle school and four elementary schools in Albert Lea. When it started, it served just over 30 students at Hawthorne.

At the elementary schools, 25% of students in kindergarten through fifth grade are receiving weekend meals through the program, she said. At Southwest Middle School, 10% of students receive food.

The eight churches involved — Grace, Crossroads Church, Zion Lutheran Church, Ascension Lutheran Church, Salem Lutheran Church, Hayward Lutheran Church, United Methodist Church and First Lutheran Church — provide the majority of the program’s funding, Drommerhaousen said. They do receive some funding from community service groups and grants.

The entire program will cost near $58,000 this year, Drommerhausen said, but volunteers are unsure whether it will grow past its current size, and by how much. She said the program needs as much community involvement as it can get.

“We are just worried about the sustainability of the program if it keeps growing,” she said.

Those wishing to donate can contact any of the involved churches.

 

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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