Basin Electric employees volunteer for United Way summer hunger program

There are children in the Bismarck-Mandan (North Dakota) community who are going hungry. Missouri Slope Area United Way is fighting to eliminate this issue. The initial solution was to create a backpack program for kids in the community that are on the free and reduced school lunch program. Before the program, many of those kids would return back to school unfocused because they had not eaten all weekend. The backpack program helped by giving kids food to take home for the weekend.

However, with summer approaching, there was a question United Way was unable to ignore. “What do these kids do in the summer?” The summer hunger program was started to continue the efforts of the free backpack program. The program is free to children and adults in the community. The free meals take place at nine different parks in the Bismarck-Mandan area, five days a week (Monday-Friday) from noon to 1 p.m.

Basin Electric got involved with the summer hunger program because the cooperative was already sponsors of the free backpack program. When the summer hunger program was created as an extension to the free backpack program, the cooperative happily extended their sponsorship to that program as well.

The summer hunger program is on its third summer. Last summer, the program served 31,561 meals. United Way teams up with Bismarck and Mandan Public Schools, and the Great Plains Food Bank to feed the hungry and make this number achievable. Along with the partners, they also have volunteers come in every day of the week to serve the food. Basin Electric serves lunch Wednesdays at Hillside Park in Bismarck.

Basin Electric charitable giving administrator, Jennifer Holen, is the employee who kick-started Basin Electric’s involvement. “Basin Electric is very involved with United Way. In the school year, Basin takes one week a year and packs the backpacks for the weekend backpack program,” Holen says. “There has been a significant increase in the need for programs like these in the community. Sometimes, the free lunch is their only meal for the day.”

Basin Electric contract administrator, Kristi Blumhagen, is among the many Basin Electric employees who have volunteered their time.

“I have been doing this for three years now, you start to get to know the kids. You connect with the kids and you can tell they appreciate it,” Blumhagen says. “A little girl gave me a picture she colored ‘just for me’ the last time I served.”

“This program is important because it does so much good,” Holen says. “It really shows Basin’s commitment to the seven core cooperative principles. It is a way to live and breathe those principles.”

Watch this 2017 video on the summer lunch program:

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