Backpack Buddies bring hope to families in need


Organizers of the Maple Lake School District’s Backpack Buddies chose backpacks like these to carry food to families in need because they are inconspicuous among a school full of students carrying similar bags. Bags full of food are sent home with qualifying students every Friday afternoon. (Photo submitted)

There are still families in need in the Maple Lake School District, but those needs are being seen too thanks to the school’s innovative food supplement program, Backpack Buddies.
Maple Lake started off the school year with the highest number of backpack families to date, and officials estimate more will sign up as the year progresses.
So far, a total of 21 backpacks are going home to families who otherwise would be hard pressed to provide healthy meals to their children every day, Elementary Social Worker Lisa Weninger said.
Kindergarten through 12th grade students can qualify for the program which sends backpacks full of food home every Friday.
Initiated in 2013, the idea behind the program is that when students’ basic needs are met, then they will do better at school.
Organizers chose backpacks to carry the food because they are inconspicuous among a school full of students carrying similar bags. In fact, no one but the two principals, Weninger and high school social worker Debbie Stang know where the backpacks go.

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