MEQUON -- Everyone, from kids to customers to co-owners of a grocery chain, has a favorite.
“My favorite are the ones from Frozen," said Ted Balistreri, the aforementioned co-owner of Sendik's Food Markets. "We just opened a store on the Marquette campus. The Marquette students are buying them and attaching them to their backpacks."
The Backpack Buddies are back on shelves at the 19 Sendik’s locations around the Milwaukee area. Tiny, plush characters from Frozen, Spongebob Squarepants, My Little Pony and more. At two for $10, all the proceeds go towards Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin.
“It serves children, students in the MPS system," Balistreri said. "Who may not otherwise have access to a nutritional meal.”
This is the tenth year of the partnership between Sendik's and Feeding America. In 2016 they shifted focus from buying school supplies to providing food to one Milwaukee Public School.
“We look for schools particularly that have a high rate of homelessness," said Lori Holly, Director of Marketing and Communications for Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. "[MPS] knows that those children are the ones that have the hardest time accessing food.”
Each of the qualifying kids goes home with a backpack full of food every Friday for the entire school year.
“If we can provide that nutrition all throughout the year and keep them healthier throughout the year," Holly said. "They can focus. They can succeed.”
Last year, the program sold almost 4,000 Backpack Buddies and raised almost $20,000 to support students at Milwaukee’s Clarke Street School. A new school will be chosen for this year’s push.