Did you know the age of 18 years old in Vilas County are at or below the poverty line? These children get most of their meals at school an that according to 2014 Census information, 58% of these children go without food on the weekends.
In partnership with Eagle River Elementary, Land O’Lakes Elementary, and St. Germain Elementary, the local community is providing meals through the “Weekend Backpack” project. Backpacks are sent home on Friday with “child-friendly, easy-to-prepare” food items that might not be the most nutritious, but would provide the necessary calories to help eliminate their hunger. Many of the parents are working several minimum wage jobs, living in basements with only a microwave and a one burner hot plate, and struggling to keep their children fed.
The Backpack Program started in the March 2015 with one hungry 3rd grader and the heart of a school volunteer. Since then, the Backpack program has grown to over 133 elementary students at Eagle River Elementary School and Land O’Lakes Elementary School, and approximately 10 students at St. Germain Elementary School.
In April 2017, “The Locker” was launched. The Locker is a food and personal care pantry directly located in the Northland Pines Middle School/High School building and serves over 60 students. In addition, “The Room” opened at Eagle River Elementary School to provide emergency food for students and families. The Locker and the Room have refrigerators in order to provide healthy perishable food options as well. Personal care items and school supplies are also available.
Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church, St. Germain UCC, and the St. Germain community supports this program for St. Germain Elementary School/Northland Pines Montessori and Learning Center.
Student participants’ names are kept confidential by the school and school district staff. Students and parents self-identify and/or identified by school staff.
How Can You Help?
You can help by dropping off needed items at one of the local drop-off sites, make a monetary donation, or volunteer your time.
Needed Items include:
- Oatmeal (individual packets)
- Cereal (individual cups or boxes)
- Pop Tarts
- Applesauce (individual cups)
- Fruit Cups (individual size, no Jell-O)
- Pudding (individual cups – vanilla or chocolate preferred)
- Complete Meals (microwavable)
- Macaroni ‘N’ Cheese (individual cups or Easy Mac – no boxes)
- Ramen Noodles (Beef or Chicken)
- Soups (canned, microwavable, dry mix)
- Microwavable meal cups (Chef Boyardee, Hormel Chili, Dinty Moore Beef Stew, etc.)
- Microwavable Popcorn
- Granola Bars
- Breakfast Bars
- Individual pre-packaged mini-muffins
- Tuna or chicken (packets only, no cans)
Snack items (must be individual size):
- beef jerky/beef sticks
- Rice Krispies
- Trail Mix
- Dried Fruit
- Cheese or peanut butter crackers (individual)
- other similar items
- No chips please
When donating food, please select items that are appropriate for a 4-5 year old’s taste preferences. Expired food or food past the sell by date cannot be used. Thank you.
Items can be dropped of at:
- Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
- St. Peter’s Catholic Church
- American Family Insurance, Eagle River
- People’s Bank, Eagle River
- Incredible Bank, Eagle River
- Parson’s, Eagle River
- Shepherd of the Lakes Lutheran Church, Sayner
- St. Germain UCC
To learn more about the Backpack Program, listen here.
The Eagle River Backpack Program was recently featured on WSAW’s Our Town Eagle River Segment on June 20, 2018.
The Backpack Program is proud to partner with the Northland Pines School District in providing support and encouragement to youth and families.