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Help students start school right; support Backpack Attack

Here's a way to help children start the new school year on a good note — and get a free meal besides.

Several Osakis churches and the local United Way will be serving free pulled pork sandwiches at the Osakis Public School cafeteria today, Wednesday, August 30, from 4 to 7 p.m. to the first 500 who come. The event is taking place during the Osakis Public School Open House.

They're raising funds and awareness for the United Way's Osakis Backpack Attack program, which is supported by Osakis Lutheran, Our Saviour's/Fahlun Lutheran Parish, Immaculate Conception Catholic, Redeemer Lutheran and First Presbyterian of Osakis.

Backpack Attack is a program where kids in need of nutritious food over the weekend are discretely provided a kid-friendly snack or book that is placed in their backpack.

"We started this in response to seeing that certain students came to school on Monday having eaten very little over the weekend," noted Pastor Jeremy Pedersen at Fahlun Lutheran Church.

Backpack Attack is a Community Impact Program of the United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties. Programs are established with a school as need is expressed.

The program is confidential and voluntary for those receiving food bags.

The percentage of elementary students in Douglas County receiving meals for free or at a reduced price is consistently more than 30 percent, in some schools higher than 40 percent. The lunch program helps students during the week, but the purpose of the Backpack Attack program is to help those students on the weekend when they might not have a meal between lunch on Friday and breakfast at school the next Monday.

Every bag costs $4 to make. Because of this, Kris Chisholm, fundraising and special events coordinator at United Way, stressed the importance of every dollar donated. The bags are filled with 6 to 8 pounds of child-friendly food such as granola bars, macaroni and cheese and Pop Tarts.

Before school started last year in Osakis, more than 350 bags full of food were packed into boxes in 35 minutes and stored for students to use during the school year.

For more information about the program or how to support it, visit the United Way's website at or call 320-834-7800.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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