The Eagle River Rotary Club has made an emergency $5,750 donation to the Feed Our Rural Kids (FORK) Inc. Meals Now program.

“Times of challenge often bring out the best in a community,” said Perry Pokrandt, president of FORK. “And the Eagle River Rotary Club is certainly representative of the best of our area.”

Rotary President Robin Ginner said the Eagle River Rotary Club, in response to the challenges around the COVID-19 pandemic, wanted to stand with FORK and their effort to provide nutritional support to children within the Northland Pines School District.

“Too many children in our community face food uncertainty in the best of times,” said Ginner. “During these times, your local Rotary Club wanted to do what we could to ensure that children were still being fed.”

The check for $5,750 will support almost 3,000 meals as part of the FORK Meals Now program, according to Pokrandt.

Meals Now is an emergency nutrition program designed by FORK to aid children from homes experiencing fast-changing levels of food security. Examples of this may be life changes such as the death of a parent or guardian, loss of a job, a severe family illness, divorce, or homelessness. 

“Each of these situations can put a child’s well-being at risk,” said Pokrandt. “What we never expected in the creation of this program was a worldwide pandemic affecting nearly all the kids at one time. That is why we appreciate this support from our community’s Rotary family.” 

FORK has committed support of area youths with the Meals Now program through June 5, according to Meals Now Chairman Rich Miech.

“The cost of the current program commitment is budgeted at $24,000,” said Miech. “Yet the children’s future needs and our path forward as an organization are uncertain.” 

According to Northland Pines sources, it’s possible that the food distribution program will continue through the end of June or possibly until fall when school starts again. Necessary financial support from the federal government has not been approved. 

“What we do know is that FORK has committed to the school district that we will nutritionally support our kids through fall if needed,” continued Miech. “But the financial challenge around such a possibility is considerable and daunting.”

Pokrandt said the community support has been very positive.

“We want to thank the Eagle River Rotary Club for their generous support of FORK’s efforts to feed our rural kids,” said Pokrandt.

Anyone who wants to learn more about FORK or the Meals Now program can contact Pokrandt at (715) 410-8167 or visit feed­ourruralkids.org.