Even in a state with the second-lowest unemployment rate in the nation, hunger exists. In Bismarck-Mandan alone, over 4,000 students receive help through the Free and Reduced Lunch Program. However, the MSA United Way learned that this program was still leaving a gap for the poorest children in our community who were coming to school on Monday dizzy and distracted, having not eaten over the weekend.
The United Way Backpack Program provides food for students in elementary, middle and high schools across Bismarck-Mandan who would otherwise go hungry over the weekends. MSA United Way recruits and coordinates local businesses that sponsor and pack bags containing a weekend’s-worth of food, then deliver the backpacks to schools, where counselors discreetly provide them to needy students. Children are able to go home Friday afternoon confident that they won’t be worrying about hunger anymore.
For only $2,000, a business can sponsor a weekend and help feed 1,076 local children. The cost of food for one backpack is $5, so food drives and individual gifts help to supplement the full cost.