Rotary gives $20K to help feed area youth

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  • (Photo by MARY MALONE) The Rotary Club of Sandpoint presented a check for $20,000 to Food For Our Children on Wednesday. The money, raised through the club’s annual gala, will help feed hungry children in Bonner County.

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    (Photo by MARY MALONE) Rotary Club of Sandpoint member Ken Wood, left, hands Food For Our Children founder Dennis Pence a check for $20,000 on Wednesday. The money, raised through the club’s annual gala, will help feed hungry children in Bonner County.

  • (Photo by MARY MALONE) The Rotary Club of Sandpoint presented a check for $20,000 to Food For Our Children on Wednesday. The money, raised through the club’s annual gala, will help feed hungry children in Bonner County.

  • 1

    (Photo by MARY MALONE) Rotary Club of Sandpoint member Ken Wood, left, hands Food For Our Children founder Dennis Pence a check for $20,000 on Wednesday. The money, raised through the club’s annual gala, will help feed hungry children in Bonner County.

SANDPOINT — With more than 1,600 local kids who go hungry each day, Food For Our Children aims to eliminate childhood hunger in the community.

To aid the nonprofit in that mission, the Rotary Club of Sandpoint presented FFOC with a check for $20,000 on Wednesday. Rotary president Mel Dick said he couldn’t think of a better way to spend the money, which was raised through this year’s club gala, which featured several members who tried out their acting skills in a murder mystery “Dinner to Die For.”.

“All the things we have done as a club, this is a great cause,” Dick said of the FFOC program.

With the help of its closest partners, including Bonner Community Food Bank, Bonner General Health, Newport Hospital and the Lake Pend Oreille School District, FFOC provides weekend food bags to Bonner County students. The program currently provides weekend food for students in need in all of the LPOSD elementary schools, Sandpoint Middle School and Lake Pend Oreille High School. The food program also serves Head Start and the West Bonner County School District. Over the past two school years, 27,418 bags have been distributed, Pence said, and nearly as many in the two years prior.

Because the food bank purchases the food wholesale through Second Harvest, which is then reimbursed by FFOC, the cost of each bag is $4. Therefore, the money donated by Rotary will purchase 5,000 bags of food, Pence said.

“All donor money goes one-hundred percent toward the program,” Pence said. “... So you can feel really good about the fact that all the money is going to feed children.”

FFOC also provides daytime snacks for students. On the horizon, Pence said, FFOC is looking at the possibilities of starting a breakfast program at Clark Fork Junior/Senior High School, adding Forrest Bird Charter School to the weekend food program, and providing snacks for a possible after-school program at LPOHS.

Erik Olson, principal of Farmin-Stidwell Elementary, choked up with emotion as he started to talk about the impact the food program has had at his school, which has a population of about 600 kids. More than 100 food bags are handed out every Friday at Farmin-Stidwell, he said. They also started a snack program last year in the school with the help of FFOC, as Farmin-Stidwell staff has been learning about trauma-informed classrooms. A drink of water and a snack will typically calm kids down when stress gets them worked up, he said.

“So last year we experimented with a snack and it’s taken off,” Olson said. “Our teachers are extremely grateful for Food For Our Children ... We are just very appreciative of the support from Rotary and Food For Our Children and all the hard work that our volunteers do — it does not go unnoticed, I assure you.”

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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