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More than $12,000 raised for Backpack Attack last year

Backpack Attack is a program of United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties that provides supplemental bags of food to students who register through their participating school.

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OSAKIS — Last year, hundreds of bags of food were distributed at the Osakis School District as part of the Backpack Attack program, and it looks like this year is on track to do the same.

Backpack Attack is a program of United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties that provides supplemental bags of food to students who register through the participating school.

The Osakis School Board heard a presentation on the program at its regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 12.

Pastor Jeremy Peterson, a member of the Osakis Hunger Coalition, said that last year $12,947 was raised for the program, and approximately $6,800 has already been raised this year.

"Last year we spent $10,900 at $5 a bag," Peterson said. "That's hundreds and hundreds of bags."

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"I can't give enough kudos to Jeremy and the entire Osakis Hunger Coalition for their ability to make this program sustainable in the Osakis School District," said Jen Jabas, executive director of United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties. "That's pretty amazing."

The $5 bags are intended to help feed children over the weekend, Jabas said. Enclosed are single-serving types of entrees that are lightweight enough to pack in small plastic bags.

"We want … for that food to be child-friendly that they can prepare on their own," she said.

Food bags are stored at the school until they are distributed to students on a confidential basis.

Peterson said 43 Osakis students are already signed up to receive the bags this year.

Jabas added, "This program tugs at all of our hearts, because we know what it means for a child to go home and be hungry. We know what it means when they're sitting in the classroom and they're trying to think about their studies, but they're really thinking about that they haven't had something to eat."

The Backpack Attack program is supported through donations by groups, businesses and individuals. Donations designated to a county or specific Backpack Attack program are received by the UWDP, which coordinates the ordering and delivery of the food bags to the schools.

Organizations may also choose to organize a packing event with their donated funds, one of which was scheduled to take place in Osakis this week.

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Peterson said all of the more than $12,000 raised last year was local to Osakis.

"It's the businesses, it's the Lions Club, it's the churches, it's individual donations — it's really a community effort," he said.

Jabas agreed, saying, "We're thankful that we can not only come in and work alongside of you to provide this program, but that the community steps in and provides the funding for that to happen. Otherwise, those sources wouldn't exist."

For more information, visit uwdp.org .

Travis Gulbrandson covers several beats, including Osakis School Board and Osakis City Council, along with the Brandon-Evansville School Board. His focus will also be on crime and court news.
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