Feed Our Rural Kids Inc. (FORK) recently kicked off its Tomorrow’s Kids En­dow­ment Fund’s $1 million capital campaign, according to endowment Chairman Keith Kentala.

FORK was formed to address the critical day-to-day nutritional needs of children from food-insecure homes across eastern and central Vilas County. 

The Tomorrow’s Kids Endowment Fund has been created to meet the chronic long-term challenges faced by the organization in addressing that childhood food insecurity.

The endowment was first funded by an anonymous $100,000 founding donation in June of 2020. At the time, the donors were mindful that their donation could create a legacy of hope for generations of youths and that their grant would provide sustainability to ensure that FORK’s efforts to feed children would stand the test of time.

“FORK’s goal for the endowment is a $1 million balance by the end of 2024,” said Kentala. “No small task, but a goal that is worthy of the efforts that will be necessary to achieve it.”

FORK President Perry Pokrandt explained the decision for the lofty goal.

“Investments in our children’s future are not made with the expectation of immediate return. Rather they are made in hopes of changing the arc of their destiny,” said Pokrandt. “Research tells us that there are generally two types of donors to nonprofit organizations like FORK. There are those who want to help today and those who want to leave a legacy that supports the future efforts of an organization to continue their programs into the future.”

Kentala noted the FORK effort to help feed youths was not just a promise to the children in need today. 

“It stands as a driving force that compels us to build upon the fund’s original donation,” said Kentala. “The wonderful thing about the Tomorrow’s Kids En­dow­ment Fund is that we have built it to do both those things Perry mentioned.

“The needs of today’s children are funded in part by annual distributions of fund assets,” said Kentala, “while the sustainability of the organization’s future efforts are secured by growth of the fund’s portfolio conservatively invested over time.” 

Committee named

The other members of the Tomorrow’s Kids En­dow­ment Fund Committee include Ben Hauser, Jed Lechleitner, Nancy Schul­ler, Nic Weight and Brian Fritz.

“These are the people who will oversee the investment of the funds already donated and direct the funds that are donated into the future,” said Pokrandt. “With their support and Kentala’s direction, this effort is in very good hands.”

The committee members offered comments about their roles: 

Ben Hauser, president, Northland CPAs: “For years, my wife taught in the St. Germain school district and experienced firsthand the number of children living in a food-insecure home. Over those years, she was an advocate for the students in whatever way possible. Being a member of this committee is my chance to help those kids who experience childhood hunger, one meal at a time.”

Jed Lechleitner, commercial banking officer, mBank: “I hope my involvement will make an impact on the families in our communities. As one part of this committee, I believe that our support of FORK programs will help generations of our local kids to grow up strong and confident.”

Nancy Schuller, retired community banker, IncredibleBank: “By being involved and staying active in this community, I have a chance to play a significant role in enhancing and sustaining FORK’s efforts to support children from food-insecure homes in our area.”

Nic Weight, insurance agent, Meyer Insurance: “I was inspired by the incredible work the organization was accomplishing within the community. I’m honored to be a part of such a tremendously impactful program for our local community.”

Brian Fritz, vice president/private banker, Nicolet National Bank: “As the business manager with the Northland Pines School District, my wife has provided me with clear insight into the tremendous impact made by FORK programs through the worst of the pandemic. I personally wanted to be involved in preserving FORK’s programs to the benefit of children in the future.”

Kentala said he is ready to advance FORK with the help of the committee.

“The drive to fully fund the $1 million goal of the Tomorrow’s Kids Endowment Fund is easy to understand when you realize that a $1 million endowment would be able to fund the current FORK nutritional support projects in perpetuity,” said Kentala. “With this level of talent on our committee, we are confident of meeting our financial goals. Their passion and experience will be key to FORK’s long-term efforts to mitigate childhood food insecurity.”

How to donate

Individuals who would like to learn more about the effects of childhood food insecurity or discuss the many ways they can contribute today and into the future can contact Kentala at tomorrowskids@feedourruralkids.org. Tomorrow’s Kids Endowment Fund is a financial planning tool of FORK which is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

“A family legacy can be a specific donation today or a commitment to donate as part of a family estate,” said Kentala. “It’s as simple as you wish to make it.”

Donations can be made directly to Tomorrow’s Kids Endowment Fund at feedourruralkids.org/tomorrowskids.html or by mailing a contribution to Tomorrow’s Kids Endowment Fund, 4887 Echo Ridge Dr., Eagle River, WI 54521

“By our looking so far down the road, we are confident that through this endowment FORK can ensure that hunger will never stand in the way of success for any child,” concluded Pokrandt.