Good as GOLD: Idaho Alumni in Ada County Help Feed Children in Need
Wednesday, January 5 2011
Written by Donna Emert
BOISE, Idaho – The University of Idaho Graduates of the Last Decade (GOLD) alumni group is working weekly with the Idaho Foodbank to fill backpacks with donated food items to be distributed to children in need on Friday afternoons.
The Backpack Program was initiated by inner-city teachers and school nurses, who noticed that some kids chronically suffered from stomach aches or headaches on Mondays. They found many of those kids did not get anything to eat Saturday or Sunday. Their main – and sometimes only – meals were free/reduced breakfast and lunch during weekdays at school.
Originally, the children were given food in grocery bags on Fridays. The backpacks provide a sense of anonymity.
The Idaho Foodbank works in partnership with school officials to identify chronically hungry children who could benefit from the Backpack Program, and distributes 2,000 backpack refills each week throughout the state. The need is 7,000 statewide.
The time slot for GOLD Boise group to volunteer is Monday, Jan. 17, from noon to 2 p.m., at the Idaho Foodbank Warehouse, 3565 S. TK Ave. in Boise.
“Our GOLD group is approaching its fourth year of activities in the Ada County area,” said Travis Jones, who serves as Ada County GOLD coordinator. The group’s leadership operates as a 6-member, all-volunteer committee. Jones serves as the coordinator although there are no formal officers.
GOLD has successfully connected with a local young University of Idaho alumni base, hosting social functions and establishing signature events, including a St. Patrick’s Day celebration and an annual “Oktoberfest” food, fun and football event. The Ada County GOLD currently has a network of 437 Facebook friends and supporters.
The young alumni’s activities focus on creating meaningful impact in the region.
“As a subset of the U-Idaho Ada County alumni association, our committee feels it important to incorporate service-oriented activities in the local area to broaden the scope of our organization and to maximize the energy of our young alumni,” Jones said.
Last October, GOLD Boise partnered with the Idaho Youth Ranch, with more than 20 young alumni helping to sort donated items in their warehouse. They also participated in the wildly successful University of Idaho “Beat BSU” food drive by collecting canned foods at their 2010 Oktoberfest party, ultimately donating more than 230 pounds of food to the Idaho Foodbank.
For more information or to support the Backpack Program and partnership, visit: www.idahofoodbank.org/backpack-program.htm
GOLD Boise alumni can find additional information about this and other activities via the Idaho Vandal GOLD – Boise Facebook page
# # #
About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to be classified by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as high research activity. The student population of 12,000 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For more information, visit www.uidaho.edu