By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — “We wanted to do something that would make a difference in the community,” said Holly Zopfi. “No child should be hungry.”
In the 2013-2014 Leadership Marshfield class, the project group of Zopfi, Darlyne Keller, Mary Beth Knoeck, Jennifer Waters-Plemon, Adam Wegner, and Patrick Zeps chose to assist the Marshfield Area United Way with the Nutrition On Weekends (NOW) program, which provides healthy, easy-to-prepare foods for disadvantaged children during the weekend.
“Children can get free or reduced lunches through the school Monday through Friday, which is great,” Zopfi said. “Providing healthy food for the weekends is an extra step that some communities may not have the resources to implement. The NOW program is going above and beyond to make sure no child goes to bed hungry.”
“The United Way started the program in 2013,” explained Zopfi. “Our group focuses on helping find volunteers and maintaining a calendar to keep everything organized.”
With the help of a second Leadership Marshfield class project team and many volunteers, the program continues today.
For the 2016-2017 year, the NOW program has provided 451 children from 12 local schools with weekend meals. With the help of 619 volunteers and 4,886 donated items, the 12,274 food packs have included 24,548 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, 3,610 pounds of carrots, and 7,365 pounds of apples and oranges.
“Mary Beth Knoeck and I still volunteer,” added Zopfi. “My involvement includes helping prep the bins for area (businesses) and recruiting volunteers for dropping off the bins. Forward Financial Bank employees have been helping to (drop) bins off to the schools in Marshfield each week.
“Aside from going to college, I have lived in Marshfield my whole life. I learned a lot about Marshfield from the Leadership program. Going through the program made me realize what a great community Marshfield is.
“I have three children of my own, and the thought of them being hungry and without food for the weekend makes me feel sick. Regardless of the situation, the child did not choose to be in that position. They should look forward to the weekend, not dread it because they are worried about not having enough to eat until school on Monday.”