If you could do one thing that would help a child do better in school, have a better outlook on life, and be better able to fight disease, would you do it? Having enough to eat helps with all three of those situations and more. That’s why Mast Store, Merrell Footwear, and Harvest Hope are partnering again from October 25 – November 7 to provide Food for Kids.

For almost a decade, Mast Store and Merrell have worked together to help food security agencies in Mast’s home communities fill backpacks with kid-friendly foods for the weekend. For each pair of Merrell Footwear purchased during this period, Merrell will donate funds to fill a backpack with food for the weekend.

According to Feeding America, about 20 percent of families that are food insecure do not qualify for government assistance. With the backpack programs, teachers identify children they believe are at risk and add them to the list to receive weekend food. On Fridays, backpacks that were filled by volunteers are distributed to the children and will be returned on Monday for refilling for the next weekend. Teachers say they can see a difference in classroom participation from these students because they are able to focus on their lesson material.

“Making sure people, especially children, have enough to eat is an important step to becoming a better community,” said Lisa Cooper, president of Mast Store. “It is an investment in our future. We are glad to have Merrell’s help in making a difference.” Mast Store supports many groups fulfilling human needs in each of its home communities.

While the cost per backpack varies from organization to organization, it is basically less to fill a backpack for a month than most of us would spend on a moderately-priced meal for two at a local restaurant. Hunger doesn’t take the weekend off; it is one of the biggest contributors to learning disabilities and increases the risk of chronic disease. We are all putting our best foot forward through the continued partnership with Merrell and our food security agencies to make our communities better.

For more information on how you can help provide Food for Kids, contact Harvest Hope at 803-254-4432 or visit their website at www.HarvestHope.org.