AUSTIN, Minn- Since the pandemic began, dozens of people have lost their jobs and food insecurity has become an even bigger issue. Karem Salas Ramirez has been helping students dealing with it since then. She is part of The Community Wide Backpack Program, funded by United Way of Mower County where she is also the community impact coordinator.
According to Salas Ramirez, over 600 students in Mower County are struggling when it comes to food.
"The backpack program provides students with a bag of food for the weekend," explained Salas Ramirez. "Often times, students rely on food for lunch and breakfast from schools but during the week, When they go home, they don't have a reliable
source of food."
On Mondays, volunteers meet at Austin First United Methodist Church to pack food. Salas Ramirez then delivers to three schools in the district on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
"There's definitely food insecurity in our community," said Salas Ramirez. "We see that with our students and having worked at the schools, I can definitely testify just the importance of having a full belly."
On Wednesday, Salas Ramirez delivered four tubs filled with food such as meat, pasta, and some snacks.
Enrique Carmerena, a Success Coach at Austin's IJ Holton Intermediate School says they're grateful for the assistance.
"We're so happy from united way to receive a lot of food backpacks for our children."
Even when the pandemic ends, The Community Wide Backpack Program still plans to feed students who face food insecurity.
United Way of Mower County is always looking for volunteers to help pack food. if you would like to help out, you can click here.