“BackPack” Program Receives $100,000 Commitment

F-M Area Foundation Executive Director Tim Beaton (center) and Great Plains Food Bank Program Director Steve Sellent.

Students at Madison Elementary School have something nutritious to celebrate. Thanks to the generosity of a late Fargo businessman, the school’s “BackPack” program will continued to be funded for at least the next five years by the F-M Area Foundation through the Great Plains Food Bank. BackPack, which has been implemented in 14 F-M area schools with high free-and-reduced lunch populations, provides students who qualify with additional non-perishable food supplies to take home each weekend during the school year.

On Wednesday morning in the Madison gymnasium, students cheered as they learned that the program would continue to support their school with the underwriting and donation of $100,000, thanks to the Foundation’s James Green Fund. To help measure its success, an NDSU research team will evaluate the impact of the program over the five-year period on its participants.

James Green was an early businessman in Fargo, who owned Cook Drug Store on Broadway by the Powers Hotel from 1928 until 1947. Mr. Green designated 75% of his assets to create the James Green Fund at the Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation through a trust in 1974. The trust was implemented in 2010, after the death of his daughter, with income becoming available to award in 2012.

Green’s instructions were to create a permanent fund that would annually support nonprofit organizations who serve handicapped or underprivileged children, preferably in North Dakota, and without discrimination as to race or religion. The Madison Elementary neighborhood, located south of the BNSF railroad yard on the city’s north side, has the highest population of free-and-reduced lunch students in the metro – around 80 percent of the school’s enrollment.

During Wednesday’s presentation, Madison Principal Bobby Olson, Foundation Executive Director Tim Beaton and GPFB Program Director Steve Sellent spoke on the local impact of the program. Beaton and Sellent followed by holding up an oversized check to complete the announcement. In response, students from paraprofessional Mary Cahill’s K-5 “Early Morning Writer’s Group” presented Beaton and Olson with a giant thank-you card, made in advance of their visit.

Upon exiting the assembly, students were treated to ice cream treats, provided by the Foundation.

Steve Sellent, left, and Tim Beaton receive a thank-you card from the Madison Early Morning Writers Group.