FALMOUTH, Mich. — For the last seven years, without a lot of fanfare, volunteers from our community gather on a regular basis at 107 E. Maple Street at the McBain High School. It isn’t long before the room is filled with happy chatter and laughter. This is the staff of the McBain Area Backpack Program (MABP)… nearly a dozen like-minded friends who have made a commitment to purchase, sort and distribute nutritious meals and snacks that will improve the lives of more than a hundred local children. Recipients of these packed bags are students at McBain Elementary School, Falmouth Preschool and the NMCAA Head Start program.
According to Program Coordinator Judy Meekhof, the entirely volunteer program is a labor of love. MABP receives no state or federal funds and is entirely fueled by local donations and volunteer support. “We work with the school to ensure the packs go to students in need and that no student slips through the cracks,” she said. “We provide packs for students within the Free and Reduced Lunch Program but also have a relationship with the teachers so we can catch students who may have home situations that would benefit from this service. Our numbers fluctuate due to families moving in and out of our school, or when finances improve at home. When the food is no longer needed, of course, that is always great news!”
Recently, the program came to the attention of Ceres Solutions, the company which previously was known locally as Falmouth Co-op. Much like its predecessor Falmouth, Ceres Solutions strives to give back to communities… especially to programs that benefit children. “When we learned of MAPB from our team, we wanted to learn how we might come alongside the coordinators to support it,” said Ceres Solutions Michigan Region Director Martin Hall. Ceres Solutions made a financial commitment and applied for a matching grant from regional partner Land O’Lakes. That meant an award of $5,000 went to the McBain Backpack Program last week. According to Judy Meekhof, the funds will help sustain the program for more than two months. It typically requires approximately $500 per week to provide for just over 100 local children. Each child receives three meals for Saturday, three meals for Sunday and several healthy snacks. “We are extremely pleased to have Ceres Solutions make this investment in local kids,” said Judy.
Ceres Solutions Cooperative is 100% farmer owned and serves more than 37 counties in Indiana and Michigan. Effective October 1, Ceres Solutions merged with the former Falmouth Co-op, and assumed operations in Falmouth and McBain. Every year, the company strives to make a positive financial impact in each local community. “Our partners at Land O’Lakes and the customers who do business with us make these donations possible,” says CEO Jeff Troike. “It is especially rewarding to be able to invest programs that specifically benefit rural children.” For more information about Ceres Solutions Cooperative, visit www.ceres.coop. You might also follow the company on Facebook.
— Ceres Solutions
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