/ Articles / FORK introduces Meals NOW Program
In cooperation with the Northland Pines School District, Feed Our Rural Kids (FORK) has created a new program, Meals NOW, in support of children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Meals NOW is a program that originated out of the need to support a single family of children that found themselves unexpectedly homeless,” Northland Pines district administrator Scott Foster said. “It then evolved into a program to support children from families of fast-changing food stability, that is, children who find themselves food insecure due to events like a parent’s loss of a job, death of a parent or guardian, unexpected catastrophic illness, etc.
Meals NOW might now be referred to as an emergency meals program, Pokrandt said.
Feed Our Rural Kids Inc. was created in order to provide nutritional support to school-aged children from food insecure homes within the Northland Pines School District. Due to the school district’s sheer size, 474 square miles, most of the typical nutritional support solutions are not able to be implemented during this social, medical, and economic crisis.
“We reached out to FORK to help us provide financial support to children during the 10 weekends left during the school year,” Foster said. “Together we crafted a solution through the evolution of what FORK’s Meals NOW program can do.”
FORK’s mission, to provide nutritional support to our rural kids, grew out of identified gaps in the community’s current support programs. The first of those gaps taken on by FORK, was summer nutrition. The creation of the FORK Cares program was to provide a nutritional safety net during the children’s summer vacation period — a time when traditional, school based, support programs do not exist.
“The number one concern of our organization in crafting the original Meals NOW solution was FORK’s ability to provide sustainability of both their nutritional support across the calendar year,” Feed Our Rural Kids Inc. president Perry Pokrandt advised. “The uncertainty of the dynamic around this pandemic, specifically the inability of experts to project any return to normalcy, requires a conservative slant in terms of our community reaction and specific efforts to help. While at the same time, it demands that those in this community who can, step forward to help.”
Starting April 3 and running through June 5, Meals NOW will provide additional meals, assembled and distributed by the Northland Pines Food Service personnel, but paid for by FORK. The total projected cost for this effort will be $24,000.
In the summer of 2020, FORK Cares plans to deliver 5,400 meal equivalents directly to the homes of 150 children who qualify for free breakfast and lunch through the federally fund school nutrition programs.
“In pursuit of this goal, FORK raised just over $20,000 to fund this summer’s FORK Cares program,” Pokrandt said. “But today, as an organization, we have decided to go all in on Meals NOW as help is needed now. The reality is that with the new Meals NOW program in place, we must again look to raise the money to support those kids this summer as well,’ he concluded.
Feed Our Rural Kids Inc. is a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization.To support FORK Cares and the Meals NOW programs, go to FeedOurRuralKids.org. Donations will also be accepted via mail to FORK 4887 Echo Ridge Drive Eagle River, WI 54521.