MACF supports Backpack Buddies program

Posted: Oct 19 2021

The Minot Area Community Foundation (MACF) has awarded $12,000 to the Souris Valley United Way’s Backpack Buddies program. The money was awarded following a monthly meeting between the two organizations where it was brought to MACF’s attention that the Backpack Buddies program had grown substantially since the end of the 2020/2021 school year.

The sudden growth in the number of children applying for participation in the Backpack Buddies program prompted United Way Executive Director, Rich Berg, to seek additional funding. Because of the quick action taken by MACF staff and their Board of Directors, the United Way was able to secure the additional funding needed and did not have to turn anyone away from the program.

In North Dakota, roughly 1 in 4 people are food insecure, many of those are children. Locally, about 1 in 5 youth are at risk of going hungry over the weekends when they do not have access to school food programs. At the end of the 2020/2021 school year, the United Way reports having 250 elementary age youth enrolled in the Backpack Buddies program compared to 280 already enrolled at the beginning of this 2021/2022 school year. These totals do not include the roughly 58 additional youth being served through Jim Hill Middle School and Souris River Campus. Executive Director, Rich Berg says that those numbers will rise throughout the school year. “I can’t thank the Minot Area Community Foundation enough for this funding,” said Berg. “It reminds me of the high quality of people we have in our area and how they rally to support those in need whenever they can. I want to thank the Minot Area Community Foundation staff and board for their support and caring attitudes.”

The $12,000 from the Minot Area Community Foundation’s Arnold. I. Besserud Fund will go directly towards the purchase of food for children enrolled in the Backpack Buddies program. The Besserud Fund’s primary focus is to provide food and basic humanitarian needs to those that need it most in the community. The cost to sponsor a child is about $10 a weekend or $360 a year. “The MACF staff and board are very happy to help fulfill this unmet need with a quick response to ensure all children who are participating in this essential program are taken care of” stated Jason Zimmerman, President of Minot Area Community Foundation.

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