Focusing on Solving Youth Hunger in Blue Earth County
Youth hunger is a significant barrier to a student’s success. Feeding Our Communities Partners (FOCP) focuses on solving youth hunger by engaging Blue Earth County, Minnesota residents in its food programs.
Nearly one in six families within Blue Earth County lives below the poverty line and 60% of enrolled students qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program across the five school districts served. While students may access breakfast and lunch during regular school days, some have limited or no access to food outside of school hours.
To ensure that no child is hungry during the weekend or extended school breaks, The Olseth Family Foundation has been supporting the BackPack Food Program and Power Pack Program since 2016. These two programs serve 850 students in grades K-8 at 29 schools within 5 school districts. On Fridays, the students receive a discreet backpack full of child-friendly, well-balanced single-serving items to be eaten when school is not in session. With a team of committed volunteers and 670 specialty menus, FOCP can honor all dietary and religious restrictions. These programs are offered free of cost, and enrollment is easy and confidential.
During the summer months, FOCP fulfills the summer feeding gaps in two ways: 1) one month’s worth of meals and fresh food options are delivered right to students’ doorsteps; and 2) STOMP (Summertime Outreach Meal Program) has designated locations and times when fresh meal options are supplied. For example, vouchers allow the student access to fresh milk, fruit, and vegetables at five local Kwik Trip stores, Deitz Foods in Mapleton, and Nicollet Mart.
In partnership with FOCP, The Olseth Family Foundation strives to feed hungry students, and provide youth with the opportunity to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives, regardless of circumstance.
A recipient of the BackPack Food Program shared;
“BackPack Food makes me feel not hungry and happy.”