Backpack Program Helps Children in Whitefish, Columbia Falls

By Beacon Staff

The WAVE, Montana Food Bank Network and Glacier Bank have partnered on a fundraising campaign to recognize National Nutrition Month. The BackPack Program was designed to meet the needs of hungry children by providing them with food over the weekends and holiday breaks, when they are away from the school lunch and breakfast programs they depend on for nutrition. One in five Montana children struggle with hunger and Flathead County is higher than the state average where the child food insecurity rate is nearly 1 in 4.

Thanks to a $25,000 grant for the Angora Ridge Foundation, the BackPack Program was started in Whitefish and Columbia Falls in January 2012 and provides food to 175 children every weekend. Each backpack contains enough food for two days and arrives in an easy to open package. The bags are placed directly into children’s backpacks in a discrete location every Friday. The bags contain cereal, milk, juice, snacks and ready to eat meat and vegetable meals.

The program currently serves students at Glacier Gateway Elementary, Ruder Elementary, Columbia Falls Middle School, Columbia Falls High School, Muldown Elementary and Whitefish Elementary. Since September 2013, the program has distributed 3,042 bags to 220 students.

During the month of March, people can help the program by adding $1 or more per month to their WAVE membership dues, make a donation at the Whitefish Glacier Bank, or make a onetime donation of $25 or more and receive a complimentary 7 day pass to the WAVE.

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