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Backpack program completes another school year

Volunteers at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church fill backpacks with donated food from members of the church. From left to right are: Leigh Weiss, Patti Jehring, Marg Wopat, Carol Marnell and Rosann Larkin. Photo courtesy of LeAnn Bjork

The Hudson Area Backpack Program made their last distribution for this school year to children in early childhood, elementary and middle schools.

Throughout the year, backpacks were distributed 17 times to over 160 students providing child-friendly, nonperishable food for breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekends. Included in the backpacks are vouchers for milk, bread, eggs and cheese.

Due to the many generous donations received, this past year the program was able to add a meat product of their choice up to $5. These vouchers were also distributed to 18 high school students. Eighty-four percent of students receiving the backpacks are on free and reduced lunches.

As part of the program, the program also offers vouchers to Food Harvest of St. Croix Valley once a month at Afton/Lakeland Elementary School. This allows families to pick up a supply of food once a month that includes fresh fruits and vegetables.

Churches who have participated by donating food to fill the backpacks during this past year included St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Hudson United Methodist Church, Bethel Lutheran Church, Mt. Zion Lutheran Church, First Presbyterian Church, Shepherd of the Valley, Trinity Lutheran Church, Christ Center Assembly of God, Faith Community, Family of Christ Lutheran and River Community Church.

Due to the success of last year's Summer Backpack Program, a program will be offered six times this summer to help families who will not be receiving the free and reduced lunches usually received during the school year. The dates will be June 6, June 20, July 11, July 25, Aug. 8 and Aug. 22 at Prairie Elementary School. The program is funded through grants and donations.