1. Chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe hands a check to Sherry Wallis of the Post Falls Food Bank. The $35,000 will help provide nutritious food on weekends to school youngsters who might otherwise go hungry. (Photo by Jack McNeel)

Coeur d’Alene Tribe Donates to Weekend Nutrition Backpack Program for Youth

Jack McNeel
12/19/11

Post Falls, Idaho — Coeur d’Alene tribal Chairman, Chief Allan, arrived at an elementary school in Post Falls with a check from the tribe in the amount of $35,000. The money will go toward a new program in place called the Weekend Nutrition Backpack Program, created through a joint agreement with the school district and the local food bank. Its purpose is to provide food over the weekend to students who do not have dependable access to food outside of school.

“Hearing about kids who go without food all weekend really tugs at your heart,” Allan said. "So when we heard about this program, we just had to help.” Quoting from Martin Luther King, Jr., Allan added, “He had the audacity to dream that all people could have three meals a day….”

Sherry Wallis, director of the Post Falls Food Bank, noted the huge increase in need throughout the area and explained this is a new program specific “to helping the most vulnerable of our kids.”

Speaking to Chief Allan, she added, “We are going to use this money prudently and spread it out over a few years. It takes a lot of pressure off the food bank in the sense we can still continue to serve over 900 registered households, but can concentrate on this particular program. From all of us, thank you very much.”

School principal Colleen Kelsey explained that every Friday afternoon each of the youngsters in the program is given a bag of food to take home to provide for their food needs over the weekend. The number of youngsters presently identified and involved in the program is 75.

There were tears in her eyes as she continued. “I would like you all to know that when they get those bags of food, there’s gratitude in their eyes. When their parents are asked if they’d like to participate in this program you just see the wave of relief on their faces.” She added that the people are good people but are presently in financial circumstances where they’re concerned about their youngsters. “Sometimes they go hungry so their kids don’t.”

Kelsey also noted she sees smiles and how students now arrive on Mondays full, and not hungry. “They’re not sleeping in class. Discipline problems have been reduced and attendance has increased. Academic effort has improved. When your tummy is full your brain can work.”

Chairman Allan concluded saying, “The true champion today is not the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, it’s those kids. They're the true champions. They struggle but they keep getting up every day to go to school. The program you provide for them is wonderful.”

“Thank you for letting us be part of this. I wish we could all be nice to each other every day of the year.”

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