January 16, 2019 –Rochester, MN–Channel One Regional Food Bank recently received a grant in the amount of $20,000 from Mayo Clinic in support of our efforts to end childhood hunger through the Backpack and School Pantry Program.

“An estimated one in five children in our community does not have enough to eat,” said Mayo Clinic Community Engagement Director, Erin Sexton. “Channel One does extraordinary work helping fight hunger, and Mayo Clinic is proud to be able to support those efforts. Mayo Clinic is committed to helping end childhood hunger in Olmsted County.”

With the knowledge that 1 in 5 children do not have enough to eat, Channel One is committed to helping end childhood hunger through our Backpack and School Pantry Program.  According to data collected by Rochester Public Schools, over 36% of students in their schools receive free or reduced price lunch, so we know there are a large number of children in our communities who need our help to fight hunger in their homes. The Backpack and School Pantry Program serves public school students in Olmsted County, Minnesota, which has a child food insecurity rate of 11.8% or close to 4,500 children.  This program began during the 2010-11 school year, and has rapidly grown from serving 729 kids in 10 schools to now serving 23 public schools in Olmsted County and over 1,000 students.  In 2012, the Backpack Program expanded to include school pantries, which operate in eight public schools in Olmsted County and serve about 225 students.  In addition, we also supply snacks to eight schools through this program.  The expansion of our program allows us to better serve all students in grades kindergarten through grade 12.

“Over 4,500 children in Olmsted County struggle with food insecurity,” said Virginia Merritt, Executive Director, Channel One.  “Through our Backpack and School Pantry Program, Channel One collaborates with our schools and partner organizations to end childhood hunger and places nutritious foods directly into the hands of children in need.  We are grateful for Mayo Clinic’s continued partnership to help us continue to fight hunger in the homes of at-risk children in our community. ”

Last fiscal year, Channel One Regional Food Bank distributed nearly 10.4 million pounds of food to more than 100,000 low-income individuals in need of food assistance. Without the assistance of Channel One and our nearly 200 partner food shelves, agencies and programs, over 100,000 individuals, with nearly half of them being children, would not have enough food to eat.  Channel One addresses the need for hunger relief in our region by offering Mobile Food Pantry deliveries to under-served areas without access to a food shelf; through our Green Garden Program, which offers free garden plots to clients to grow their own food;  by putting food directly into the hands of children through school pantries and the Backpack Program; by offering a five day supply of food to those in need at the Supplemental Food Shelf; and by delivering pre-packaged boxes of food directly to senior citizens in need. Channel One also works with our partner food shelves, agencies and programs to distribute food to low-income individuals throughout our region