Tomah Memorial Hospital Foundation Helps Hungry Students - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Tomah Memorial Hospital Foundation Helps Hungry Students


Tomah, WI (WXOW) - Needy students in the Tomah School District will continue to get a special backpack full of nutritious food thanks to a $3,000 contribution from the Tomah Memorial Hospital Foundation.

Members of the hospital Foundation Board of Directors gathered Friday to make the donation to officials from the Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin which operates the Tomah BackPack Buddies program.
"Good health starts with good nutrition," Foundation president Ray Habelman Jr. said.  "Our financial support will provide food for one month of the backpack program which directly helps Tomah students stay healthy and strong."
In partnership with the Tomah School District, Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin operates the program that sends an average 600 students home with backpacks full of food monthly. Backpacks or reusable bags are filled with nutritious, easy-to-prepare foods, and provide nourishment on long weekends and other out-of-school times for children considered at risk of hunger. Children take the backpacks home on the last school day before the break and the next school day they return the empty backpacks.
"The Foundation felt that the mission of Second Harvest is very important to the area and is happy to support their cause," Habelman explained. The Foundation raises money to support Tomah Memorial Hospital area health-related programs. Back in August, 88 golfers took part in the Foundation's annual golf outing to help fund the Foundation's mission.
 Second Harvest officials say the donation comes at a time when the need continues to grow.
"Donations of kid-friendly, nutritious food items are down at a time when many Tomah students and their families are facing hunger," said Dan Stein, CEO / President of Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin.  "Through their support of the BackPack Buddies program, the Tomah Memorial Hospital Foundation is helping to make sure kids in Tomah receive the proper nutrition needed to grow physically, mentally and succeed in school," Stein added.
A study by Feeding America- Second Harvest's national parent organization- found that food insecurity has been associated with health problems for children that may hinder their ability to function normally and participate fully in school and other activities.
The study concluded that children who are food insecure are more likely to require hospitalization, and may be at higher risk for chronic health conditions, such as anemia and asthma.
The Tomah BackPack Buddies food budget this school year is $27,000. Officials anticipate the number will increase as the number of children in the district qualifying for the free and reduced meal program reached 43 percent during the 2011-2012 school year. The Tomah BackPack Buddies Program began in 2006.
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