New program feeds students on weekends - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

New program feeds students on weekends

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SPARTA, WISCONSIN (WXOW)-- A new program out in Sparta is helping low income students and their families get healthy meals on weekends.

"I had several students in my class last year that I was saving leftovers for and sending home on the weekends," said Amy Russ, a teacher at Southside Elementary School.

Russ noticed more and more students didn't get adequate meals on weekends she decided to do something.

"You wish you could do more," Russ said. "We get to have them during the day but once they leave you can't do much. So this is a way for us to go beyond school and help them at home."

Through the Nutrition for Children program students get a bag of food on Friday to last them and their family through the weekend.

"What we've tried to do is make sure that kids are getting something from every food group," said Nicole Jones, a dietician and the parent coordinator for the program. "Because they're going in a backpack, everything has to be non-perishable. So we're getting fruits that are in their own juice and no sugar added, canned vegetables."

Right now the program helps about 20 students and after just a month, teachers are noticing improvements in the classroom.

"They know their backpack's going to be a little heavier on Friday and I think there's a comfort in that for them," Russ said. "I think they feel safer, they feel more secure when they're going home. And then we notice there is improvement at school."

In addition the food, each bag also contains educational material so parents can learn about healthy cooking.

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