Meeting Basic Needs
“Need is increasing everywhere and that includes Mahtomedi.”
– Julie Rolling, Mahtomedi Licensed Professional Counselor,
Home & School Connection Counselor
Compared to the eighty-two students in 2016 and sixty-eight in 2015, 91 students attended the Back-to- School Bash—a community event that provides school supplies and access to basic need resources—in 2017. The goal of the event is to provide every student, regardless of income, with the tools and resources for a successful school year.
To date, the Weekend Backpack Food Program is already distributing 72 bags of food per week. The program provides students who might otherwise go without food with weekend meals so that on Monday students are ready to learn. The number of students needing access to basic needs like food is also increasing. Last year (2016-2017), forty-six students received the weekly bags of food and in 2015-2016 thirty-one students relied on the program.
And, already this fall (2017), there are currently 9 homeless students in our district. A total of four students were counted homeless during the 2016-2017 school year.
Because of the increasing need among Mahtomedi’s student body, Julie Rolling and Deb Lauer (English as a Second Language and Outreach Teacher), agree that MAEF’s sponsorship of the Back-to- School Bash is essential to its success; “We couldn’t do it without MAEF’s help.” In addition to the Back-to-School Bash, Rolling uses MAEF sponsorship funds to help support and stabilize district families. In order for a student to go to the doctor, she purchased a gas card. Rolling paid off an Xcel bill to avoid an electricity disconnection at a student’s home, and for a family without additional money to buy dinner to celebrate, Rolling bought a pizza for a sixth grader’s birthday. “Everyone needs to be celebrated,” Rolling says, “if a student has self-confidence they are more amenable to learning.”
Mahtomedi prides itself on academic excellence but if students don’t have enough food, adequate school supplies, electricity, or a home, success is illusive. MAEF’s mission is to support Mahtomedi Public Schools effort to engage, challenge and inspire all students. During the 2016-2017 school year, MAEF gave in excess of $11,000 to support programs and initiatives that further educational excellence and the health and wellness of all Mahtomedi students.
Michelle Stiepan, Mahtomedi Area Food Shelf Coordinator, says it well: “It is wonderful to have such generous support from MAEF to make [the Weekend Backpack Program] such a success.”