News That Matters To Antelope County - Your News. Your Way. Every Day!
© Pitzer Digital, LLC
While 227,350 may not seem like a large number of people, when put into the context of the number of people in Nebraska who are struggling with hunger, it might seem larger than it should be.
According to www.feedingamerica.org, 1 in 6 children in Nebraska struggles with hunger.
While tackling statewide hunger is a large task, members of the Elgin FFA chapter are working hard to put an end to local hunger.
The Elgin FFA chapter received a $2,000 grant on Tuesday morning from Farm Credit Services of America’s (FCSAmerica) Working Here Fund to start a backpack program, which involves filling backpacks with non-perishable food items to send home with students over the weekend.
“We are honored to support organizations dedicated to addressing food and hunger issues in our local communities,” said Zach Gansebom, vice president of retail operations at FCS America’s Norfolk office.
“I’ve heard of schools getting grants through FFA for a backpack program,” said Elgin FFA Advisor Julia Schwartz. “I thought, ‘You know, there’s a lot of kids in Elgin that can surely use this program, and so that’s what kind of spurred me.’ ”
After talking with principal Greg Wemhoff and guidance counselor Sonia Rittscher, as well as other teachers and staff, Schwartz found out there were a lot of children and families that could benefit from the program.
Once Schwartz applied for the grant, Rittscher then got in touch with Linda Kerkman at the Bargain Box, who decided that the Bargain Box would give the FFA chapter up to $100 each month to sustain the backpack program.
“The goal is to send just a regular backpack full of food home with that child for the weekend, even on holiday weekends as well,” Schwartz said. “It just helps a little bit at home.”
Schwartz said that the backpacks would be generic, plain-jane backpacks so as not to draw attention to the students utilizing the program, and all the families will remain completely anonymous.
The school will be sending a letter home with the families that teachers, staff and administration have identified as potentially benefiting from the program.
With the letter will be a consent form, and if the families want to participate, they can return the form.
Schwartz’s goal is to fill the backpacks with as much healthy, local foods as possible.
“We want to make it as healthy as we can get, non-perishable items. Canned peaches or macaroni and cheese, rice, cereal, the basics, but still as healthy as we can get it,” she said.
She added that they are looking at potentially including vouchers for items like milk and eggs.
Staying local is also important to Schwartz and the chapter.
“We want to use that money here in Antelope County,” she said. “Using Dean’s Market will be our first go-to to get the food sources. I could probably assume that some of the families might be living in Neligh, so if we end up using Thriftway in Neligh, it stays local still.”
The chapter hopes to start the program the last weekend in February, but if not, for sure in March.