Due to a temporary pandemic boost in federal support of the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC), Feed Our Rural Kids Inc. (FORK) will cancel its third quarter funding of its Jump Start Program, according to Teri Mason, FORK’s birth to 4 nutrition support coordinator.

“But we are excited to be able to redirect $1,250 of that funding in support of the Weekend Backpack Programs through Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Eagle River and Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church in Sayner,” said FORK President Perry Pokrandt

“The Jump Start program provides 150 WIC qualified families an additional $10 a month in fresh canned or frozen fruits and vegetables each month in addition to their regular federal WIC fruit and vegetable benefit of $9 to $11 per month,” said Mason.

The Jump Start Program is funded by FORK, but is administered by Vilas County Health Officer Laurel Dreger. 

“We were informed by the federal government that their WIC program funding will temporarily triple the amount of fruit/vegetable benefits for all WIC qualified families for the months of June, July, August and September,” said Dreger. “Based on consultation with FORK, together we decided to suspend Jump Start funding for the third quarter.”

In addition to the donation to Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, FORK has provided $250 to Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Sayner. The church provides weekend backpacks to children attending St. Germain Elementary School.

“We think that the federal increase in specific WIC funding is a positive on two levels,” explained Mason. “First, this allows us to redirect assets in support of the Weekend Backpack Programs. Secondly, FORK sees the government’s temporary boost in the fruit and vegetable benefit as a realization of the inadequacy of this aspect of their WIC support program benefit and clear vindication of our Jump Start program goals.”

To learn if a family qualifies for the WIC program, call Dreger at (715) 479-3757.

To learn more about the Weekend Backpack program in the Northland Pines School District, contact Katie Stuckemeyer at (715)?479-8989, ext 4. In the Phelps School District, contact Jason Pertile at (715) 545-2724, ext 115.

People can learn more about FORK at feedourruralkids.org.