Pictured on the left is Angie Cimmiyotti of Riceville School accepting the donation from Barb Bissen of Northern Country Coop. Submitted Photo.

Northern Country Cooperative recently donated a total of 2646 cartons of shelf stable milk and 1152 meat sticks to area schools that are packing lunches for families during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The donation was organized by Kevin Hanson and Barb Bissen of Northern Country for the benefit of Riceville, St. Ansgar, Alden-Conger and Southland School’s BackPack Program. 

“With the stay safe atmosphere now in place in our area and throughout the country, deliveries were made to the schools following the safe practice of social distancing,” said Bissen. “I was able to connect with a St. Ansgar teacher and the meat sticks and shelf stable milk were loaded into their vehicle which eliminated the need to enter the school.” 

Donating to area school BackPack Programs is something NCC, in partnership with NutraBlend, has done for the past four years. Normally the bags of food are distributed at the end of the school week so children will have nutritious meals and snacks for the weekend. Now in this time of crisis with schools closed and learning taking place at home, many schools are providing meals to the students during the week. 

“Northern Country is pleased to be able to help the schools and we appreciate all the people and organizations involved who keep all of us safe, fed, and healthy,” Bissen said. 

Northern Country Coop is enrolled in Nutra Blend’s “Drive to Feed Kids” program, in which funds can be used for local food assistance programs such as the BackPack Program. Nutra Blend is also a supplier of products NCC uses in the production of feed delivered to area farms and bagged feed sold at NCC. 

Hanson, manager of the Feed Department, said that the funds were raised by employees operating food stands at three area tractor pulls each summer and once working at Pizza Ranch in Austin, MN. 

The BackPack Program has been a positive for many school children and their families. 

“We’re all in this together. We hope to be operating the NCC food stands this summer. And you can show your support by enjoying a delicious brat burger, hamburger or steak,” Bissen said. “All is for the BackPack Program, what it’s accomplished in the past and what it will in the future.” 

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