Feed Our Rural Kids (FORK) has issued a $10,000 Matching Grant to help fund the North Woods Weekend Backpack programs.

All funds raised in support of area backpack programs during the month of May will be matched by FORK up to the $10,000 level. Those funds will then be distributed, on a per child served basis, to the three local churches who provide more than 200 children weekend backpacks, according to FORK President Perry Pokrandt.

“Together, these congregations provide nutritional support to kids from the St Germain, Sugar Camp, Land O’ Lakes, Eagle River, Phelps and Three Lakes elementary schools.

“Through this matching grant fundraiser, we want to bring additional attention to the efforts of the Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church, Faith Lutheran Church, and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church congregations,” Pokrandt said. “We hope this additional focus will aid in the funding efforts for all of these congregations.”

Children from food insecure homes are provided the equivalent of two supplemental meals to take home every Friday of the school year through the Weekend Backpack program.

“Each backpack distributed costs approximately $6 to assemble,” explained Pokrandt. “With 34 weeks in the school year, this means the annualized program costs to support those 200 kids exceeds $40,000.”

To fund this challenge, FORK will utilize the very first financial distribution from their Tomorrow’s Kids Endowment Fund. The Tomorrow’s Kids Endowment Fund is a financial planning tool by which FORK hopes to ensure the financial sustainability of all its programming into the future.

In February of last year, FORK announced a $1,000,000 capital campaign to fund its endowment.

“This $10,000 distribution is the first fruit from our endowment tree,” said Tomorrow’s Kids Endowment Committee Chairman Nic Weight. “Without the resources annually provided by our endowment, this type of collaboration within our community would not be possible.”

Food insecurity manifests itself in many ways, offering families and their children an endless array of challenges. On a local level, those challenges are faced down by numerous nutritional support programs, like the Weekend Backpack program, that help families push back against their lack of sufficient, affordable, and nutritious food, Pokrandt said.

“Because of these challenges, our board of directors could not think of a better way to utilize this first distribution from our endowment than in support of all three North Woods Weekend Backpack programs,” he added. “Therefore, FORK is issuing a challenge to residents of the Northland Pines, Three Lakes and Phelps School districts to donate to their communities’ Weekend Backpack programs.”

To make an online donation, visit feedourruralkids.org/weekend-backpack-program. Donations can also be mailed to: Weekend Backpack Program, 4887 Echo Ridge Dr., Eagle River, WI 54521.

Feed Our Rural Kids is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.