BRAZOS VALLEY — Millions of Texas households experience food insecurity and things only intensified once the pandemic hit.
Educators witnessed the need and partnered with the Brazos Valley Food Bank to help where they can.
Schools in the Brazos Valley partnered with the food bank to support programs that provide students in need with food to sustain their nutrition throughout the school year.
An extra meal or snack can go a long way for kids.
At Caldwell elementary school they support kids in need with extra snacks in their backpacks to hold them over the weekends.
"The past two years we have actually served 40 kids and we are a pre-k through third-grade campus," said Beverly Lillie, Caldwell Elementary School Counselor and Backpack Program Coordinator.
Nutrition is critical for a child's developing brain, and if there is a need at home it doesn't stop once they're at school.
"We do see that there are kids, certain ones, that they really rely on the school lunch program and on these backpacks," said Lillie, "Those are who we try to target as far as who receives the backpacks."
Some students are not sure where their next meal will come from. This is where the backpack comes in to ease their mind.
Eventually, students graduate elementary school so school pantries then jump in to help bridge the gap of ages 10 to 18.
"If you are a family in need just because you're ten years old doesn't mean your need stops," said Jody Gougler, A&M Consolidated High School food pantry board member. "A lot of people don't realize you have to be 18 years or older to go to a food bank in the community."
These programs helped students and families, but when the pandemic hit it disrupted the lives of many.
"You know we went to spring break, and we never came back" added Gougler.
Students still needed help and Jody Gougler was not going to stop providing it.
"A lot of kids and their families that needed help, and so I would go up to the school whenever they reached out which was probably two or three times a week and pack food up," says Gougler. "We would bag it and leave it at the front of the school, and they would come and get it."
About 35 families a month were stopping by the school pantry.
The need of these students and families have come in all shapes and sizes, which is why the school pantry's hours are flexible.
"Sometimes it's families or students that that just need something to get them through a couple of days, so the level of need varies," shared Gougler.
"Now I just encourage people to donate to the Brazos Valley Foodbank just because the money does stay here locally and helps the Brazos Valley area in general all the seven counties that utilize this backpack program," Lillie explained.
According to Feeding Texas, 20% of children in the Lone Star State experiences hunger.
If you're interested in helping there are only three days left to donate!