The food program currently aimed at pre-school and elementary school age children in North Branch got underway on Sept. 7.

The program, dubbed “Vikings Vittles” is a coordinated effort between Trinity Lutheran Church (who launched and organized the program), Family Pathways and the North Branch Public Schools who take care of distribution. The program provides children in need with supplemental food for each weekend throughout the school year.

It was initially anticipated that about 30-40 children might utilize the program. However, when letters were sent home to parents, over 200 students signed up to receive bags of food! Because of the overwhelming response the program needs community support more than ever. To get the program off the ground, seed money came from the Outreach fund at Trinity, grant money from various sources, along with a few community organizations and businesses. The money was and will be used to purchase food, which is picked up at Family Pathways, then packaged by members of the church, delivered to the schools and distributed by school staff every week.

Church leaders, community clubs, local organizations, businesses and individuals can show their support in numerous ways. First and foremost, financial donations would be greatly appreciated. Individuals or groups can send a check to Trinity Lutheran Church P.O. Box 447 North Branch, MN 55056 or to Family Pathways 6413 Oak St. North Branch MN 55056. Indicate on the memo line that the money is to be directed to “Vikings Vittles.”

The goal is to raise $25,000 which would ultimately allow them to expand the program to the middle school and high school at the first of the year. Second, if you would like to help pack or deliver food, send an email to outreach@trinitynorthbranch.org. In addition, for every pound of food given to Family Pathways food shelf, they will credit $1 to the “Vikings Vittles” program if the person making the food donation asks them to do so. They would also welcome fresh garden produce.

In a letter expressing her support for the program, Sunrise Elementary Principal Lori Zimmerman wrote, “As principal, I am confronted by the reality that some of our students do not receive regular meals outside of the school day, for a variety of reasons. Families who are struggling to provide nutrition that children need outside of school, are beyond grateful for this support. I think it’s been a real game-changer for some families. Given the numbers, we’ve needed to make changes in the distribution process, but each week it gets a little better.”

Many surrounding school districts have similar programs which are usually funded through local organizations. Let’s all work together to help kids in this community get enough to eat! Questions can be directed to Donna Setter at 612-363-5072.

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