Discount raffle to help hungry children | News, Sports, Jobs

For hundreds of local children, a bag of food they get at school every Friday may be the only thing keeping them from going hungry over the weekend.

This bag of food is provided to them through a program called Backpack Buddies, which is so named because the food was originally placed in backpacks.

The program was launched in 2010 as an initiative of the Fort Dodge Sertoma Club and now also involves White Transfer & Storage Co. and inmates at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility.

For the third year in a row, area residents can provide financial support to keep food going for children while having the chance to win a garden shed. This is a shed made by inmates from the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility enrolled in the Iowa Central Community College carpentry program.

Fort Dodge Councilman Terry Moehnke, founder and leader of the Backpack Buddies program, described the shed as one everyone would be proud to have in their backyard.

The winner of the shed raffle will be drawn on December 17 at the CJ Bio America Farm News Ag Show.

The Hangar Raffle is a partnership between Iowa Central Community College and The Messenger.

“Our community is fortunate to have local support for great causes like Backpack Buddies,” said Terry Christensen, publisher of The Messenger.

“I would like to thank Terry Moehnke for his continued efforts to keep this program in place,” Christensen added. “Our community is fortunate to have support to fund these efforts – CJ Bio America, Iowa Central and Noon Sertoma have come together strongly to make this happen.”

Iowa Central President Jesse Ulrich said the college is “Honored to be a partner of the Backpack Buddies program.”

“Our students have the opportunity to use their skills for a great cause”, he said. “This is one of many examples of how Iowa Central continues to be a positive community partner in our service region.”

The need for Backpack Buddies is “pretty obvious” says Moehnke.

He said more than 60% of students in the Fort Dodge Community School District qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

He said that when these students do not have access to breakfast and lunch at school, they are likely to go hungry. He said in one case, an elementary school student lost 12 pounds during a Thanksgiving break because there was no food at home.

Moehnke said he got the idea for Backpack Buddies from his sister, who was an elementary school principal in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

When the program started, Sertoma Club members packed about 50 bags of food a week.

Today, inmates pack about 400 bags a week.

Each bag contains a can of foods such as ravioli, a can of soup, pudding, fruit cups, juice boxes, individual cereal boxes, toaster pastries and granola bars.

Moehnke said food was ordered from Hy-Vee in Fort Dodge. White Transfer & Storage Co. drivers pick up the food from the supermarket and deliver it to the jail, where inmates pack the bags.

The bags are collected from the prison and taken to schools, where they are distributed to students on Fridays.

how to help

Raffle tickets for the garden shed are now available. Cost is $25 for one ticket or five tickets for $100.

Tickets can be purchased from members of the Fort Dodge Sertoma Club. They can also be purchased at Terry Moehnke’s office, 25 S. 16th St., or at the Webster County Fairgrounds during the CJ Bio America Farm News Ag Show Dec. 16-17.

All proceeds benefit Backpack Buddies.

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