Pay It Forward: St. Olaf Church Backpack Program

August 03, 2017 11:02 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- They're about to kick-off their sixth year of collecting food, and sharing it with youngsters who need it.

And they're this week's "Pay It Forward" award winners.


"The mission of the church, both symbolically and actually, should be feed those around it," Paul Larson said.

“If your mind is on food and eating, you're not going to be thinking about reading and math," Jan Krambeer added.

And when Paul Larson's mother Ida made her nomination for the Pay It Forward award, she did it with hunger, and children, in mind.

"She nominated Darlys Smith and Jan Krambeer from her church, St. Olaf here in Austin, who run a backpack program, backpack program with food in the backpack for children who participate in the Head Start program in Austin," Larson explained.

This week, we surprised Jan Krambeer and Darlys Smith with the $600 Pay It Forward award as they were getting ready to kick off the sixth year of the backpack program.

"Being ex-teachers they know that students often come to school with no food in their stomachs,” Larson told us.

"The kids are in school four days a week, so we pack basically for three,” Darlys Smith explained, taking us on a tour of their storage and packing rooms on the lower level of St. Olaf Lutheran Church.

“There will be three little meal entrees, three fruit cups, three individual snacks, and at least three pieces of fresh fruit. Packing for 85 children, and about 71 bags per week."

And that means that last year,"We sent out a total of, I happen to know the number, 2,213 bags."

But as the sixth year of the program approaches, the cupboard is nearly bare.

"Our pantry here is way, way down,” Darlys Smith explained. “We packed it way down last spring and so we've got to build up our inventory. And that $600 is going to help a lot to get us started on that."


Dan Conradt

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