2017-11-02 / Front Page

Food Pack Serves 65; Seeking Help

By Kevin R. Hess


Volunteers from the St. Ignace United Methodist Church helped to fill 65 food packs for students identified as “food insecure” to help bridge the weekend gap for students who may not have access to nourishing meals between Friday’s school lunch and Monday’s school breakfast. Pictured here are: (from left) Bobbie Colegrove, Dell Powers, Cheryl Stearns, and Judy Misner. (Photographs provided by Susie Hierholzer) Volunteers from the St. Ignace United Methodist Church helped to fill 65 food packs for students identified as “food insecure” to help bridge the weekend gap for students who may not have access to nourishing meals between Friday’s school lunch and Monday’s school breakfast. Pictured here are: (from left) Bobbie Colegrove, Dell Powers, Cheryl Stearns, and Judy Misner. (Photographs provided by Susie Hierholzer) The St. Ignace Community Food Pack program, in its fourth year of providing nutritious food for about 65 students on weekends during the school year, needs more money for food purchases and is lining up volunteer groups to help with packing.

Its founders established the program after learning most St. Ignace students qualify for the income-based free and reduced-price lunch program. Dave Kunze, one of the founders, had heard about a program called “End 68 Hours of Hunger,” established in New Hampshire in 2011 for students who may not have food between the free school lunch they receive on Friday and the free breakfast they receive at school on Monday – a 68-hour period.


Members of the St. Ignace United Methodist Church volunteered to fill food packs for the community food pack program Sunday, October 29 in the church basement. Pictured here are: (foreground) Sue Dionne; (from left) Mandy Bowlby, Mckale Bowlby, Hannah Hierholzer, Cheryl Stearns, Tristin Misner, Jodi Misner, Melody Montcalm, Judy Misner, and Cara Mason. Members of the St. Ignace United Methodist Church volunteered to fill food packs for the community food pack program Sunday, October 29 in the church basement. Pictured here are: (foreground) Sue Dionne; (from left) Mandy Bowlby, Mckale Bowlby, Hannah Hierholzer, Cheryl Stearns, Tristin Misner, Jodi Misner, Melody Montcalm, Judy Misner, and Cara Mason. “End 68 Hours of Hunger” is a corporate-sponsored private, not-forprofit organization with volunteer-run programs in seven states. Mr. Kunze said while St. Ignace isn’t capable of running that program, its need is as great, if not greater, so he and local resident Diggy Clement enlisted help from others to start the Community Food Pack program. Other board members are Mary Sue Kunze and Sue Dionne.

The program operates under the umbrella of the Mackinac County Child Protection Roundtable, a local not-for-profit organization. Volunteers assemble food packs that go home with “food-insecure” students each Friday afternoon to help bridge their weekend hunger gap. Food insecurity is defined as having unreliable access to healthy food owing to such factors as low income and health problems. Families that are food insecure often skip meals or buy cheaper, less-nourishing food because it is all they can afford. It can affect every aspect of a child’s life, from education and health to cognitive development.

According to the Michigan State University Extension Office, food insecurity affects one in eight peo- ple and one in five children in the Upper Peninsula. Studies have found food insecurity is associated with health problems that may hinder children’s ability to function normally and participate fully in school and other activities. Food insecure children are more likely to require hospitalization, have oral health problems, and have a poorer quality of life.

Mr. Kunze said St. Ignace teachers have reported improved classroom participation and behavior from students being served by the food pack program. In an October 16 report to the St. Ignace school board, Elementary and Middle School Principal Kari Visnaw said school officials are trying to identify new students who need food packs, as well as students with new needs.

Mr. Kunze said the program served with about 50 students the first year and the number has risen each year, even as school enrollment has declined. The school provides a place where volunteers assemble food packs discreetly and has a pick-up system that allows for student privacy. Deanna Kreski, student and family advocate at St. Ignace Schools, helps connect students in need with the program.

The cost of each food pack has increased as organizers continue to provide more products for each student. They save money by purchasing in bulk, but added financial support is crucial. Mr. Kunze says the program operates with no overhead and its board is “very proud” that 100% of the donations are used on food for students. All are unpaid volunteers. Newsletters, printing, brochures, and postage are donated.

“Some programs operate with as high as 80% administration costs,” said Mr. Kunze. “Every dollar that is given to the food pack program is used to purchase food.”

Two years ago, The St. Ignace News published an article highlighting the food pack program. Mr. Kunze said after its publication, he received a call from a 70- year old woman who said her 90-year old father in Roscommon had read the story and was moved to tears because he grew up in Moran and knew what it felt like to struggle with hunger. The man was so moved, he donated $350 to the program.

Mr. Kunze said he hopes more people will be inspired in a similar way. Any groups interested in volunteering to help pack food and anyone interested in providing financial support can contact Diggy Clement at (906) 643-8547 or Dave Kunze at (906) 643-9280. Donations also may be mailed to the St. Ignace Community Food Pack Program, P.O. Box 251, St. Ignace, MI 49781.

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Feeding America West Michigan

Feeding America West Michigan is proud to support Community Food Pack as a partner agency.

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