RICHFIELD, Minn. — Friday morning at Richfield's Centennial Elementary began with a big shout out in response to an equally big check.
A third grade class held handmade thank you signs and cheered, as representatives with Crown Bank handed over a giant check for $11,000.
The money will be used to ensure that Every Meal, a local non-profit that distributes weekend meal kits to kids and families across the state, can continue to provide that food directly to the backpacks of 34 hungry kids at Centennial.
"This is the best gift," said principal Colleen Mahoney. "Just to know that we can feed kids that really need food over breaks and weekends, it's just amazing because the staff, we worry about our students all the time."
Crown Bank's donation to Every Meal's Centennial Elementary food program came in response to a KARE 11 story highlighting the struggles that the non-profit has encountered due to inflation and confusion about the Feeding Our Future fraud investigation, which had a chilling effect on its fundraising, despite a 12 year track record of feeding hungry kids and partnering with more than 430 schools.
"My biggest concern from the Feeding our Future fraud is the the kids are going to get lost," said Rob Williams, president and founder of Every Meal. "We've actually had to cut back because of funding, and when I say funding I don't mean we need more trucks, I don't mean we need more staff, I just mean we need more food."
That story inspired viewers of Breaking the News to raise nearly $44,000 for Every Meal. It also inspired Crown Bank CFO, Paul Moen.
"I'm on my couch on a Friday night, I just happened to be home, and the (KARE11) story struck me," Moen said. "I became emotional at that point and I thought, 'I've got to do something.'"
Moen didn't just recognize the need, he recognized the school featured in the report. His daughter is a third grade teacher at Centennial.
"All of a sudden that became real to me because some of those kids in her room, are in this program," Moen said.
Now, thanks to the donation, all of those kids and others throughout the school, will have peace of mind for months to come.
"The $11,000 will cover the cost of the food and the program at Centennial Elementary for a full school year," Williams said. "Crown Bank is going to come and volunteer at the school as well, so that the social worker and staff don't have to do the distribution of the food bags."
"Giving the money is easy," Moen said. "The most difficult part, for a lot of businesses, is the volunteer piece, and that's what organizations like Every Meal need."
And at a time when demand for weekend meals is up 34% statewide, that need isn't going anywhere.
"We have, actually, 71 schools on our waitlist," Williams said. "So when we get these responses and we can add even one school — that might mean money, that might mean volunteering, that might mean connections — whatever it is that you can bring to the table is ultimately what makes an impact on those who need our support."
If you add the donation from Crown Bank, to the money KARE11 viewers have already raised, Every Meal will now be able to provide 26,000 meals to help feed nearly 170 kids for an entire school year.
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