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Backpack Program helps childhood hunger for 10 years

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SUPERIOR,WI-- Going hungry on the weekends.

That's a problem for more students across the Northland than you might have guessed.

But for the past ten years, the region's Nutrition on Weekends backpack program has tried to be the solution.

They supply backpacks full of food to kindergarten through high school.

A decade ago they started with the Superior School District, now they're providing food for 44 Northland school districts.

In all, they serve more than 1100 kids every single weekend.

Second Harvest Executive Director Shaye Moris says, "Today it's grown from feeding 100 kids a week to nearly 1,100 throughout the entire region."

Nicky Wilson the Coordinator for Family Support Services in Superior Schools says on average they're sending 35 to 45 bags home throughout the district.

St. Louis County gets the largest amount in the program with almost 750 backpacks.

Carlton County gets 190 while Douglas County sees more than 70 backpacks.

Backpack program officials say hunger insecurity is higher in Northwest Wisconsin compared to the state's average.

The number of kids who use the program has grown and that has been a concern.

But Backpack officials say they will continue to provide as long as kids need it.

"Again we would like for there to be no children hungry in this region. But there are, so as long as there are we will continue to operate the backpack program. And hope that it fills that important gap," says Moris.

Providing food to students they hope will fight the hunger crisis ease stress and break any barriers families might encounter.

Moris adds, "We really hope it reduces a lot of stress for kids and that they can concentrate and learn when they are in school."

Wilson says, "It fills a void for families who are either in the processes of moving into the area and don't know local resources or have just taken in additional family members into their house and it's just an ongoing food concern."

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Emma Quinn

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