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Weekend Snackpack program's new director has a 'heart for families'

The Mitchell Weekend Snackpack program's first paid employee has big dreams for the nonprofit. With one month of work under her belt, Development and Program Director Kimberly Powell said she hopes to "streamline" the Snackpack program, in turn i...

Kimberly Powell is the Mitchell Weekend Snackpack Program's development and program director, the nonprofit's first paid position. (Photo courtesy of the Weekend Snackpack program)
Kimberly Powell is the Mitchell Weekend Snackpack Program's development and program director, the nonprofit's first paid position. (Photo courtesy of the Weekend Snackpack program)

The Mitchell Weekend Snackpack program's first paid employee has big dreams for the nonprofit.

With one month of work under her belt, Development and Program Director Kimberly Powell said she hopes to "streamline" the Snackpack program, in turn increasing its efficiency and reaching more Mitchell families in need.

"I have a heart for families," Powell said. "I want to reach out and be a support to those who need a little extra help."

Weekend Snackpack operates 35 weeks each year and gives between $60,000 and $70,000 worth of food annually to grade school-aged students in Mitchell.

Powell is the nonprofit's first paid position for the Snackpack program, formerly based entirely on volunteer work. Cindy Novachich held the position of volunteer program coordinator, which was eliminated and re-named as development and program director, since Weekend Snackpack formed in August 2009. Novachich cited the increasing demand of running the program as the main reason she stepped down from her role, and the part-time, paid position was created.

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When Weekend Snackpack began its pilot program in Mitchell Elementary Schools from January to May 2010, 175 students were served each week. Since then, the number of kids served has more than doubled, with 436 students served weekly between August 2015 and May 2016. Food is packed in recycled grocery bags and given to elementary school children on Fridays.

Novachich has since stayed on with the Snackpack program, assisting with Powell's transition into the lead role, and will serve as a member of the board.

"I don't know how (Novachich) did it, along with working another job, too," Powell said. "She's been a great support, helping me with anything I need, but also being very gracious and letting me fill in and make changes where I feel they're needed."

Kimberly and her husband, Nathan, who is the new Mitchell Parks and Recreation director, moved to Mitchell from eastern Montana this summer, each with extensive experience in nonprofit work.

Powell said she and her husband ran a residential Christian camp for 10 years and she worked with a county parenting resource center, which offered parenting classes and support for families.

She said the Snackpack program is much of the same work as her prior roles, but now deals specifically with food.

"Food gives families in need an extra boost, and sometimes that's what they need to keep them going, which is what kind of makes Snackpack special," Powell said. "And I have two kids in college and one that's a junior in high school, so I've been down the tough road of parenting and trying to get those kids raised, too. I can relate to an extent."

Along with maintaining cost-efficiency, Powell said she plans to promote Snackpack more on social media like Facebook, and hopes to expand its reach to Instagram and Snapchat in the coming months.

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She hopes to get more volunteers involved in packing and delivering each week. Part of accomplishing that goal will be allowing more companies and groups to "adopt a weekend," in which each group would provide and pay for supplies and snacks for a weekend, along with packing and delivering the content.

"Mostly, I'm just trying to streamline the processes and make sure that every child in Mitchell that does need that pack is able to have one," Powell said. "There is a growing need, and we don't want to turn away anyone that really, truly needs it. That's my goal: to make sure we're funded and efficient, so if that need does continue to grow, we can continue to meet those needs."

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