Growing hunger pains call for growing Backpack Buddies program

Did you know that one in five local students are at risk of going hungry? Think about that statistic. These are elementary age children.

Souris Valley United Way was the initial funder and local affiliate for Backpack Buddies, which has expanded to assist 192 hungry schoolchildren with supplemental food on the weekends.

The Backpack Buddies program provides identified children with nutritious, easy to prepare food at times when other resources are not available, such as weekends and school vacations.

“The food packs help ensure that a child will have food over the weekend and return to school on Monday ready to learn,” said Rich Berg, Souris Valley United Way executive director.

Research shows hungry children have poorer mental and overall health, miss more days of school, suffer greater rates of behavioral disorders and are less prepared to learn at school. The Backpack Buddies program is hoping to decrease these statistics.

The need has risen to expand from five elementary schools to six. Bell Elementary School will be added to the Backpack Buddies program to serve over 15 children in need of the program. The program is currently at Sunnyside, McKinley, Lewis and Clark, Washington and Roosevelt Elementary Schools. There is a need to expand to all the schools, but until the program has the yearly funding to do so they will continue to try and move into the next school with the most need each year.

With the challenges of childhood hunger comes the need for new and sustained donations to support the program. A gift of $10 supports one child with one weekend of meals. A gift of $360 provides one child an entire school year of weekend meals.

“As we see the local potential to feed children increasing, we are counting on our local community members to support this worthwhile program,” Berg said.

Donations can also be mailed to 1941 4th Street SW, Minot, ND 58701.

For more information and to donate, visit or call 839-2994.