Assistance League Works to End Child Hunger

Updated: 05/12/2013 10:34 PM By: Katherine Johnson

Most of us don't remember looking forward to eating the food served at school lunch, but for many students in Minneapolis, it's the only meal they can depend on eating.

Hidden inside a Hopkins warehouse is an operation unlike any other. A group of women packing food for hundreds of hungry families with the same love and care a mother puts into her own child's lunchbox.

"I just hope the bread doesn't get squished!" said Mary Ann Clinton, as she zipped a backpack filled with enough food to feed a family for days.  And that's the point.

The Assistance League of Minneapolis/St. Paul gathers every Thursday to help feed the families of 160 hungry students at Lucy Craft Laney School in Minneapolis. 

"Many children were coming to school on Monday mornings hungry, having had their last meal on Friday afternoon," said Assistance League President Sharon Hicks.

The backpacks are filled with everything from peanut butter to pancake mix - all items to help hungry students and their families get through the weekend.

"We plan for three dinners, two lunches and two breakfasts," said Lori Schmeling, chair of the Food for Kids program.  "You have to feel good and fed and healthy to be able to learn and when you're coming to school hungry and you're not sure where you're going to be that night, it's just hard to think about."

Ninety-five percent of the student population at Lucy Craft Laney is on free and reduced lunch.  That's 544 of the 572 students enrolled at the school.

"There is a huge, huge waiting list," said Schmeling.  "Most of the school could qualify."

 "They need to feel the same as everyone else and not singled out for any reason," said Hicks.

So the food is hidden away, concealed in backpacks, so other children don't know.  Afterall, you can't see a mother's love,  but you sure can feel it.  All 160 backpacks full of it.

The Assistance League partners with Second Harvest to purchase the food at a lower rate but they depend on donations to do so.

For information on the Assistance League of Minneapolis/St. Paul and to donate to Food for Kids, click here.