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Bowls For Hope provides aid for needy families

March 24, 2011

The 2011 Bowls For Hope, a way to help support the Kinnickinnic Backpack Program, took place on campus on March 22 in the University Center’s Riverview Ballroom.

The Kinnickinnic Backpack Program was created to provide food for children in the River Falls school district for the weekends during the school year.

During the school week, students eat free or reduced breakfast and lunches but at home during the weekend, the groceries may be running short, said Coordinator of the Backpack Program Romaine Hanson, “[the program] just helps them a lot.”

In 2010 the Bowls For Hope event raised $5,000 in donations and more than 200 people attended.

This fundraiser was specifically geared towards obtaining fresh fruits and vegetables said Hanson.

Art Department Chair, Randy Johnston’s advance studio class donated about 125 bowls to the Bowls for Hope fundraiser to help benefit The Backpack Program.

Johnston said he asked students in the class to make 10 bowls for the program and choose at least five to donate.

“What a great project it is to be apart of and to bring attention to hunger in this community and the country in general. All of our students were more that happy to participate in the project,” said Johnston.

Backpacks are packed by volunteers at Ezekiel Lutheran Church with healthy non-perishable foods and vouchers for produce. The backpacks are discreetly distributed to participating students the day before the weekend, holiday, or school vacation.

“Through falcon followers I chose to be with the backpack program,” said freshman Danielle Peterson.

“It only lasts for two years, but I plan to, if the backpack program is needed, stay with the program throughout my four years of college here. It’s a great program.”

The Backpack Program is completely managed by volunteers and funds are acquired through grant writing, donations, and fundraisers.

“It is strictly volunteer, we don’t get any government funding so everything that we do is through volunteers, though fundraising, through grant writing,” said Hanson.

The program is a process we have to continuously fundraise for and see where we can get the next dollar to keep this program going she said.

“It takes quite a bit of help from volunteers to keep the program running successfully.”

An average of 1,350 lbs of food is sent home with participating students in the River Falls School District each month.

And it takes about 15 volunteers to ensure that everything runs smoothly.

“It’s really nice to be out here and to have everyone out here participating, and making it happen,” said Hanson.

“It’s sad that we have to have it, but its nice that its there.”

The backpack program was started in Little Rock, Arkansas when a school nurse asked for help because students were coming to her with stomachaches and dizziness.

There are now about 35,000 backpacks that are nationally distributed through the Backpack program each week.