More than 24 percent of Oklahoma children are living in poverty which means more than one in five is a risk of going to bed hungry every night.

The Pawhuska Food 4 Kids Backpack Program is working to eradicate this statistic and encourages everyone to join in their fight to end hunger. The Backpack program strives to meet the needs of children who are at risk of being hungry over the weekend, when school meals are not available. Weekly sacks include dairy products, proteins, fruits/vegetables, and grains in an attempt to supplement nutritional needs.

Children receive individually packaged, easy-to-open food items, such as shelf-stable milk, pudding cups, cheese cracker sandwiches, sunflower seeds, canned lasagna, red beans and rice, cereal, 100 percent juice, just to name a few.

“Over the past several years, the number of weekly backpacks prepared to meet hunger needs, has continued to increase. The Backpack Program prepares sacks of shelf stable, nutritious foods for 88 elementary-aged children each weekend” said Backpack Program spokeswoman Jenny Perrier.

Perrier also states the cost to provide one student a backpack every week for the school year is approximately $150. The program is funded by donations from members of the community, church groups, businesses and civic organizations.

“We greatly value the support of the community,” she said. “We are excited to partner with the First Baptist Church youth group who generously packs each ‘backpack’ during its Wednesday evening meetings. If your group is interested in collecting food items for our project, we will be happy to arrange to pick them up!”

Financial donations can be made to the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program through the Ministerial Alliance at P.O. Box 91, Pawhuska, OK 74056. For more information about Oklahoma Hunger, go to www.cfeo.org/hungerfacts.aspx.