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Blessings in a Backpack



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Pam Schoemer, steering committee chairperson for Blessings in a Backpack. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
June 29, 2011 - Blessings in a Backpack is coming to Brandon.

The national program in which students in need are sent home with kid-friendly food every weekend during the school year will happen in the Brandon School District for the 2011-12 school year.

Pam Schoemer, steering committee chairperson, expects 300 to 400 backpacks to be filled with food for students every week during the school year. Eligible students are those who receive free or reduced lunch.

"The program is now in Michigan and growing at a rapid rate because of the economic downturn," said Schoemer. "The number of eligible students continues to grow and the need is greater as families lose their jobs and money becomes tight."

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Food for the program will be obtained from Gleaners Food Bank or Meijer at a reduced rate. The menu rotates from week to week with kid-friendly food including macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, peanut butter and jelly and other foods that children can make themselves, as well as food they will enjoy eating. Family participation is volunteer. Eligible families will receive a letter from the school district this summer or early fall inviting them to participate in the Blessings in a Backpack program.

The backpacks are brand new and there are no names put on the backpacks. Principals at each building will distribute the bags in a discreet manner and students return their backpacks on Monday to be reloaded for the following weekend.

"We've had kids that tell us on Monday, I am so hungry, we had no food over the weekend," said Schoemer.

"This will help and supplement what the Ortonville Community Emergency Fund (food pantry) does."

A golf outing to raise funds for the Blessings in a Backpack program is planned for Aug. 22 at the Oakhurst Golf and Country Club in Clarkston. The members-only club is opening its links to golfers participating in the benefit. A $150 fee per person includes lunch, 18 holes of golf, and dinner at Oakhurst. The event is 100 percent tax-deductible and all proceeds benefit the Blessings in a Backpack program.

Golfers, volunteers, and hole sponsors are needed. Register by Aug. 15 by calling Tom at 248-740-7600 or e-mailing nwcf@um.att.com, or contact Pam at pschoemer@brandonschooldistrict.org.

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