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MCLENNAN COUNTY

Program feeds hungry kids over weekends

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MCLENNAN COUNTY - A new grant helps a program feed hundreds of kids on weekends away from school lunches.

Pack of Hope supplies bagged meals for more than 300 students in McLennan County school districts. According to the Texas Education Agency, more than 26,000 students in McLennan County are in danger of going hungry over weekends. The program grew from an idea on a napkin, to supplying hundreds of kids in just a few years.

The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation recently announced a $50,000 grant awarded to the McLennan County Pack of Hope for the 2014-2015 school year. Organizers say this money can double the amount of students they can feed throughout the school year.

"Huge, it's huge because it lets us start the fiscal year with that much more money which means that many more backpacks we can allocate out to the school district, it's fantastic," director of Child Nutritional Services Cliff Reese said.

Reese says it's obvious seeing the kids on Monday mornings lining up for breakfast that they are hungry.

"You can tell in their eyes and their body language that they're hungry," Reese said.

He says between Friday lunch and Monday breakfast, some kids only eat a few bags of chips over the weekend.

"66 hours is the number that the children go from Friday to Monday without food, that's a long time," director of Pack of Hope Jane Bounds said.

That's why Bounds and Reese organized this group to give kids bags of snacks to eat over the weekend. Every Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m., volunteers pack hundreds of bags in 20 minutes. This year, Pack of Hope delivers those bags to 11 of McLennan County's 18 school districts.

"Things that appeal to the kids, are going to provide them some nutrition and are readily accessible that they can get to and eat," Reese said.

However, even with the new grant, Reese says there's still a lot of work to be done. He says he wants to reach all of the kids who are at risk, which totals more than 26,000.

"Until we can feed everyone of those kids and find a method to be able to feed them in the summer then our goals are high. We got a long way to go," Reese said.

Organizers say they're always in need of donated goods. Those include:

  • Cold Cereal- Individual packages
  • 100% Juices- Individual cartons/bottles
  • Fruit cups
  • Tuna Meal w/ Crackers
  • Mac & Cheese- microwave safe
  • Pop Top Meals- microwave safe
  • Cheese Crackers
  • Granola Bars
  • Fresh Apples or Oranges
  • Chocolate Pudding Cups
  • Travel Size Hygiene Items
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