This year’s Western Heritage Day celebration in Stevensville is on track to raise funds for the Bitterroot BackPack Program at Stevensville and Lone Rock schools. Due to generous sponsors and the popular activities such as the Chuck Wagon meal and the beer garden, significant proceeds are anticipated this year. The committee has chosen to donate the proceeds to food security for local children.
Stevensville Primary School has been a member of the Bitterroot BackPack Program since 2015, which is an official program of the National Council on Feeding America which discreetly distributes backpacks of nutritious, easy-to-prepare food to take home on the weekends for chronically hungry students in the Bitterroot Valley.
According to Lee Starck, K-5 counselor at Stevensville School, the goal of this program is to meet the needs of chronically hungry students and provide more food security so they may can concentrate and perform the complex tasks required in school. Food security allows students to engage fully in their learning environments and greatly increases their likelihood for academic, behavioral, and future success.
The Stevensville Backpack Program serves 35-40 students every week. The following items are provided in a typical weekend backpack:
- two servings of cereal;
- two servings of fruit, typically a fruit cup or apple sauce;
- two servings of juice;
- two servings of lunch/dinner, typically canned ravioli, chili, lasagna, spaghetti, etc.;
- one cereal bar and one serving of condensed milk.
When students are asked how they feel receiving their backpack bags for the weekend, students most often simply smile! They share they feel happy, less worried, excited about trying something new, and/or are looking forward to being able to cook with their families.
“In the short time this program has been running, Stevensville has provided incredible support for our students from community members, organizations, and local businesses who donate time, money, and supplement our backpack bags with fresh fruit and vegetables,” said Starck. “It is imperative that as we continue to grow this program (we have expanded into our Middle and High Schools), we keep an eye toward sustainability and continuing this important program. Your continued advocacy efforts and financial support are the most crucial steps in this process.”
So now all those who turn out for Stevensville’s downtown festival on June 29thcan feel even better because they are helping to support a very special program for our local kids.
Anyone wishing to donate grocery items to the Bitterroot BackPack Program in advance of Western Heritage Day can drop off donations from the list above at the Bitterroot Star, 115 W. 3rd, #108. Checks will also be accepted. For more information about the program, contact Lee Starck, 777-5533, ext. 213 or the Bitterroot Star, 777-3928.