Schoolchildren in Duluth who have trouble getting enough to eat over the weekend will get some help from a new backpack program.
Duluth hunger relief advocates and school officials launched the program last week. They will provide about 200 low-income students with a backpack full of food each week, and organizers hope to increase that number to 500 by the end of the school year.
Shaye Moris, the executive director of Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank in Duluth, said that a growing number of low-income children need help when they are not in school.
"We know that a lot of these children during the week get a federally subsidized breakfast and lunch," Moris said. "And on weekends sometimes kids have very little, if anything at all, to hold them over until Monday."
Moris added: "Duluth just reported that there's been such an increase of kids that are in transitional housing, or kids that are in a shelter program, or kids that are living in a car, or doubling up with relatives. We're just see that really the economy has affected families in a way that is almost unexplainable. It's hard to grasp."
The backpacks will provide students with food that is easy to prepare, like single-serving entrees, snacks and juice. Similar backpack programs exist in several areas of Minnesota.
The program will be funded by donations from individuals and foundations in the Duluth area.