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Hudson Backpack Program feeding kids in summer too

Bags of groceries were packed and ready for participants of the summer food program, an extension of the school year backpack program. Program Coordinator Marg Wopat said the program will continue to feed hungry kids through the summer. Rebecca Mariscal / Rivertown Multimedia1 / 2
Volunteers and members of affiliated organizations gathered on Wednesday, June 14 to help pack and distribute food for the summer food program. Pictured back row, from left are Fred Dietze, Nancy Dietze, Jeanne Schmidt, Rhonda Johnson, Delores Byboth, Alyson Sauter and Cindy Leonard; and front row, Gary Briske, Pat Kerner, Marg Wopat, Nancy Briske, Jean Schneider and Sue Lindberg. Rebecca Mariscal / Rivertown Multimedia2 / 2

Tables stacked full of groceries waited for students and their families at River Crest Elementary on Wednesday, June 14 as part of the new summer food program for Hudson School District students.

An extension of the Backpack Program that runs during the school year, this new program works to feed kids during the summer months when they no longer have access to free and reduced lunch or weekend backpacks of food.

Program Coordinator Marg Wopat said the new summer program was prompted by concerns from supporters.

"There was kind of a call for trying to make sure they have food for the summer," Wopat said.

The need is still there in Hudson, Wopat said.

"Kids are hungry," she said. "There is a hunger issue in Hudson."

Groceries will be available every other week. Each family will get six bags of food with meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including fresh produce and meat. This week, Thrivent Financial also donated money for toilet paper for participating families to take home.

Food from the program is purchased through United Way, Second Harvest and local grocery stores. Wopat said the group will spend $15,000 over the summer. The program has seen a lot of community support, from charitable organizations to church groups to Girl Scouts.

"We couldn't do it if we didn't have the support of organizations, foundations, grants and just individual donations," she said.

One of the organizations supporting the program is At Risk Youth Resources Committee, which will provide participants with taxi vouchers to get to the pick up location. The group started back in 2014 to support homeless and at risk youths, filling in needs as they arise with donated items and gift cards for groceries and clothing.

"Homelessness and at risk looks a lot different in Hudson than the Twin Cities," Alyson Sauter said. "There are resources in Hudson but we're a big community and we're so spread out."

The taxi vouchers help youths access the services available, like the summer food program. Six families were using the vouchers on the first day of distribution.

Fifty families will be supported by the program. To qualify, the families must also be a part of the backpack program.

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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