Students at Northfield Public Schools Area Learning Center (ALC) are looking for donations of backpacks for a program that helps families fill an immediate need.

Each week ALC students in the Work Seminar or Small Business classes stuff an average of 17 backpacks with $15-20 worth of food. The students then deliver the backpacks to school social workers, who give them directly to families.

Along with backpacks, the project can use donations of money or food. Below is a list of foods that will be accepted in specially marked boxes or school offices in the district until spring break begins, on March 25.

ALC students started the program in 2010, after learning that approximately 50 percent of fellow students qualified for free and reduced lunches. With money raised through a cookie sale and a food shelf grant, backpacks with food were made available to any ALC student.

In the fall of 2011, a one-thousand dollar grant from Thrivent Financial allowed the program to send backpacks of food to all three elementary schools, the middle school, the high school, and Arcadia Charter School (formerly known as ARTech).

This year, an anonymous donation of $1,000 from an area business owner will allow more than 400 backpacks of food to be prepared and delivered.

Items accepted for the backpack program include:

  • Canned tuna and/or chicken
  • Tuna Helper and/or Chicken Helper
  • Hamburger Helper (or similar type of boxed meals)
  • Mac & cheese
  • Ramen noodles
  • Small containers of spaghetti noodles & canned spaghetti sauce
  • Single-serving size of pudding, apple sauce or fruit cups
  • Pop tarts, granola bars, or packaged fruit snacks
  • Cereal and/or instant oatmeal
  • Small packages of cookies
  • Small jars of peanut butter
  • Juice boxes
  • Single-serving size microwave meals