Posted at: 07/24/2012 6:58 PM
By: Katie Eldred
(ABC 6 News) -- More than 7,000 students are eligible in Rochester for free and reduced lunch. The United Way of Olmsted County is hoping to help those students with their “Running Start for School” program.
Their first distribution was at Longfellow Elementary in Rochester on Tuesday.
Working mom Vanessa Lundquist says without help from the United Way's "Running Start for School" Program, getting her kids geared up for school would be hard.
"Shopping for two kids would have been a good couple hundred dollars, but I mean you want them to have everything they need," said Lundquist.
In Rochester the United Way’s Becky Nahvi has seen the number of kids in need grow each year.
"Approximately 34 percent of the student population are eligible for this program and the number has increased," said Nahvi.
Last year the program supplied 2,600 students. This year it's planning to help 4,200. Organizer Lacey Patzer hopes the kids' excitement carries into the school year.
"No matter what your income level you should have proper access to education and be able to succeed."
Each student receives a backpack and a kit according to their grade. The kit is filled with pens, pencils, notebooks, and folders.
"When they have these tools, then they really do feel like they are on an equal playing field," said Nahvi.
Vanessa Lundquist says she couldn't be more thankful.
"We would like to volunteer and give back to the community, for helping us."
The United Way for Olmsted County is still looking for donation and volunteers.