Manawa launches Project Backpack
Cargill donates $2,500 to schools
By Holly Neumann
Cargill has donated $2,500 to Manawa schools for Project Backpack.
“I am grateful that we were the recipient of this grant,” said School Board President Joanne Johnson. “It will be an asset to our district as we know that hungry kids cannot concentrate as well in school.”
Project Backpack, which was launched by Shepherd of the Lakes Church in June 2010, provides families in need with food during weekends away from school.
According to Russ Johnson, a dairy focus consultant for the company, Cargill plants around the world donate $10,000 a year.
“Cargill Cares gives back to local communities in the areas of health, nutrition, and education and environmental,” said Johnson. “Sandy Cordes filled out forms to qualify and our school was then selected by the Cargill Cares committee.”
According to Cordes, ag instructor, she and some of the members of the Manawa School Board discussed about how they could launch this program for more than a year.
“In today’s difficult economic times, our district is seeking to provide sufficient food for students in our community,” she said. “Manawa CARES agreed to support the program and so we proceeded to seek final administrative approval and funding. Grants have been secured from Cargill Cares, National FFA Hunger Heroes and Manawa FFA Alumni.”
She noted that they are still seeking partnerships within the community for additional sponsorships and program volunteers.
“Volunteers in our community will help with packing the food and pick-up in Waupaca,” said Cordes. “Supporting organizations will work in conjunction with Shepherd of the Lakes Church, Ruby’s Pantry and Remington’s Quality Foods to provide the backpack items.”
District Administrator Melanie Oppor said the poverty rate for the Manawa School District is approximately 41 percent.
“A young person’s education should never be limited by not having basic needs met,” she said.
Project Backpack’s mission is to stamp out hunger in area schools, one student at a time.
“The program makes a difference in the communities we serve by feeding children who find themselves in food insecure situations,” said Paula Thuerman, program coordinator for Project Backpack. “Studies have shown that well-fed children are in a better position to receive and absorb the education taught to them when they return to school after a weekend with nourishment that would otherwise have been absent without this program.”
On the last day of school each week, students will be sent home with a backpack filled with supplemental food and snacks to help the family get through the weekend. Backpacks must be returned on Monday, to get refilled for the following week.
Families in need may call the Manawa School District at 920-596-2525 for more information.
“I am very pleased that we are able to join the other Waupaca County schools in participating in Project Backpack,” said Joanne Johnson. “We want to make sure that all of our students are served in the best way possible and that includes assisting with all of their needs.”