Food 4 Kids Program May Soon Come to LCO Ojibwe School
By Joe Morey
A plan is in the works to bring the Food 4 Kids program to the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School. The program, operated through the Hayward Community Food Shelf (HCFS), currently serves two schools in Sawyer County, the Hayward Community School District and St. Francis Mission.
LCO Tribal Governing Board member Tweed Shuman initiated talks with Barb Schweig, the HCFS Chairperson, through a series of emails. A meeting to discuss details is being scheduled between LCO Ojibwe School Director Jessica Hutchison and three HCFS representatives, including Schweig, Joan Ackerman of the HCFS Board of Directors who serves as chair of the Food4Kids Steering Committee and Laurie Kennedy, Food4Kids Coordinator who handles most day-to-day operations.
According to Schweig, HCFS has operated the Food 4 Kids Program since the fall of 2010.
“During that time, we've provided weekend food to hundreds of children in the Hayward School District and the St. Francis Mission School. We've considered including the LCO Schools in the program many times but have never been able to for a variety of reasons,” Schweig explained. “One of the stumbling blocks before was that we simply didn’t have enough space to keep the inventory required to feed an extra 100+ kids. Our new building eliminates that as a concern now.”
The Food 4 Kids Backpack Program provides weekend food packages to elementary school students from low-income households who are at risk of hunger over the weekend when free school meals are unavailable.
A main concern to get the program underway at LCO is funding. Hutchison said the school doesn’t have the funds to subsidize the program.
Schweig said the current program costs approximately $20,000 per year, including food donations. She explained that each student currently costs about $20 per month for 12 months totaling $240 per year. She said 100 kids added through the LCO School could cost $24,400.
Shuman said the LCO Tribal Governing Board fully supports bringing the program to the LCO Elementary School.
“We sent the information to the LCO Grants Department to see if there were any grants available for this,” Shuman stated. “We also asked the LCO Elders Association to see if they can assist in funding this program. I assured the Food 4 Kids Steering Committee that I would support anything we had to do to make this happen for our LCO kids.”
Information on the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program at LCO will be updated as it becomes available.