MARSHALL - Thanks to Marshall Food4Kids, a lot of Marshall grade school students are going home on weekends with healthy snacks.
"We provide snacks for kindergarten and first-grade students," said Lisa Olin, one of the founders of the backpack program. "Our next packing is on February 9 at Albright Methodist Church."
Once or twice a month, between 25 and 50 volunteers gather to lay out purchased and donated food on tables and pack a few weeks' worth of snacks.
"We try to include a juice box, fruit and applesauce cups and raisins," Olin said. "We try to focus on healthy food and something different every week."
Food4Kids started when Olin approached her friend Rennae Petersen at church with her concerns about children in the school system.
"We contacted the (Western Community Action) Food Shelf and basically they felt children would get a good meal in the evening but during the daytime, some are home alone," Petersen said.
Olin and Petersen looked at backpack programs in other communities and got a committee organized drawn from Albright United Methodist Church, Wesley United Methodist and Living Word Lutheran Church.
"We started with school in the fall," Petersen said. "The schools requested the program be available to all. We started with kindergarten in the first semester and expanded to first grade in the second."
So far, about 130 students are involved. Food4Kids eventually plans to expand to all grades, contingent on donations and volunteers.
Packings are held once or twice a month at Albright Methodist, then volunteer drivers deliver the snack packs to the schools on the last school day of the week.
"We have volunteers of all ages, from grade school kids to 70-year-olds," Petersen said. "It's just been a really great project."
Food4Kids recently received grants from Marshall Community Foundation and Bremer Foundation to purchase food.
Anyone interested in volunteering or sponsoring a child can go to the Marshall Food4Kids website at