During the school year, the St. Croix Central Food for Kids Backpack program provides food for families in need on weekends and over extended breaks when meals at school are not available. However, thanks to a $2,500 donation from River Valley Charities, the district will be able to extend the program over the "non-school" months of June, July and August.

"This money will be used to purchase food for our families in need over the summer months. By providing the Backpack Program during the summer, students who may not have adequate food without school breakfast and lunch will now have some nutritious meals during vacation," said director of special education/student services, Patricia Basche. "Staff at St. Croix Central worry about student welfare over summer break. Providing food for those who need it allows us to help the students even when school is not in session."

River Valley Charities is a nonprofit focused on ending hunger in the St. Croix Valley. The school district has been partnering with the organization and other area school districts to share best practices with their backpack programs and to create awareness of hunger needs in their communities.

"The mission of this group of volunteers is to work toward the elimination of hunger in children and adolescents by promoting and financially supporting school lunch programs for disadvantaged students and/or students from low-income families, and to conduct education assistance and programming," Basche said. "RVC hosts an annual golf event fundraiser at Troy Burne Golf Club and our grant was a result of the money raised from that event and other donations to the charity throughout the year."

The SCC backpack program currently serves 42 students in 22 families, but Basche said that fluctuates throughout the year.

"Our program is funded entirely on donations from area organizations and private individuals. Because of these donations and our partnership with RVC and other area districts, we have been able to send home meals for the entire family over weekends and extended breaks," Basche said. "Our program is expanding to better meet the needs of our families and we are excited to be able to continue the program during the summer months."

The school board accepted the donation during its April 15 regular board meeting. According to Basche, most of the activities related to the backpack program are coordinated by Administrative Assistant Kim Gunderson and she is "significantly involved with the success of the program."

"We are always willing to accept donations. We are in the process of finalizing what our summer program will look like, and may be soliciting volunteers to help as well," Basche said.

The 2019 Feed the Future Golf Tournament is scheduled for Aug. 19, at Troy Burne Golf Club. Registration for the event is currently open.

For more information about the SCC Food for Kids Backpack program, to donate to the program, or to add your family to the program, contact Kim Gunderson at St. Croix Central District Office, 715-796-4500 ext. 3377 or kgunderson@scc.k12.wi.us.

For more information on the River Valley Charities, visit rivervalleycharities.com or the organization's Facebook page.