Giving back to the community is a big part of who we are, and it is partnerships with extraordinary people and organizations that help us work hard to make our communities a better place to live. Recently, we had the opportunity to work alongside The Junior League of Minneapolis and Backpack Buddies to help reduce the effects of childhood hunger by providing nutritious, easy-to-prepare food over the weekend to children residing in food-insecure homes in the greater Twin Cities area.
We also like to have fun, so we teamed up with The Minneapolis Star Tribune to bring four nights of progressive dining experiences to our guests, donating the proceeds to the Backpack Buddies program.
I recently participated in an evening of both volunteerism and fun with fellow MOA® cohorts and women from The Junior League. I spent a few hours packing dry, ready-to-eat meals and learning more about the mission of The Junior League and their dedication to alleviating childhood hunger.
This is where I met Tristan Hatch, a member of The Junior League of Minneapolis and Backpack Buddies Chair. She told me about the hundreds of children in our backyard who leave school every Friday afternoon unsure if they’ll have adequate food at home to carry them through the weekend, or any food at all.
Below is an exchange I had with Tristan about the work of Backpack Buddies and their work to end hunger.
Q: What is Backpack Buddies? Whom does it serve?
Tristan: Backpack Buddies provides more than 550 students with a take-home backpack filled with nutritious food for use over the weekend. Students in 1st – 5th grades at Andersen United Community School, Cityview Community School and Prodeo Academy benefit from this program.
Q: What kind of impact does Backpack Buddies have on our community?
Tristan: Backpack Buddies has a great effect on the schools that it serves and the surrounding community. If these students are able to have food over the weekends, they come back to school on Monday much more prepared to learn. Plus, the kids get excited about getting a Backpack Buddy, and it’s great to see the kids enjoying it as well.
Q: What does it mean for Backpack Buddies to have the support of organizations like The Junior League and Mall of America?
Tristan: It means that together we are able to provide the food to students and families that need additional help with obtaining food on the weekends. The JLM is a nonprofit organization that uses donations and grants to fund its programs including Backpack Buddies. Being able to partner with organizations such as Mall of America allows us to fund these programs and support our community
Q: How can our readers and the community get involved?
Tristan: Backpack Buddies welcomes external groups for help with packing, or financial support is always appreciated. Anyone interested in helping can contact BackpackBuddies@gmail.com for additional information.
You can purchase a SHOP SAVE SHARE card that can be used for 14 days — Monday, October 24, 2016, through Sunday, November 6, 2016 — at participating Mall of America stores, and receive a 20 percent discount on your purchases. All proceeds from the sale of the card go to the JLM.
Please visit JLMinneapolis.org to learn more about the opportunities to get involved as a member, donor or community partner.