Volunteers at the North Texas Food Bank work through the “hungriest season” filling backpacks with food so that children can eat over the weekends.
During the school year, feeding needy students is neither easy nor cheap, but feeding thousands of hungry children in the summer presents even greater challenges.
At school, the children qualify for the federal food program with free or reduced-price meals. To supplement on weekends, the North Texas Food Bank feeds approximately 11,000 through its Food 4 Kids program. The NTFB volunteers fill backpacks with nonperishable, kid friendly food for students at more than 330 schools in five counties to take home on Friday afternoons.
In summer, which the agency calls the “hungriest season,” the NTFB works with only 21 schools, recreation and community centers to continue the backpack program, loading 2,600 backpacks each week. The backpacks hold 60 percent of the child’s nutritional needs for the weekend.
Throughout the year, the NTFB, a non-profit organization, distributes donated and purchased foods through a network of more than 250 partner agencies in 13 counties.
Despite its efforts since it was founded in 1982, the agency feeds less than half of the estimated number of needy people in its large service area. Every day the agency provides 135,000 meals to those in need of all ages, but the need is closer to 300,000 meals.
“There is a gap that we are working hard to close,” said NTFB spokesperson Anna Kurian.
This year, when children open their backpacks at home, they are finding more fruits and vegetables. As part of the nationwide effort to eat healthier, the NTFB has increased significantly the amount of produce it is feeding hungry people.
Last May, the NTFB handed out 1.8 million pounds of produce, up substantially from the 1.1 million pounds of produce it distributed on May a year ago.
For every dollar it receives in donations, it provides three meals. This month, donors can double that ratio to six meals by matching a $1,150,000 challenge grant, the largest in the agency’s history.
The grant is being made by the David M. Crowley Foundation and the five Perot siblings, Ross and Sarah Perot, Nancy Perot, Suzanne and Patrick McGee, Carolyn and Karl Rathjen, and Katherine and Eric Reeves.
The challenge continues through August.
For more information: ntfb.org
CEO Robbie Briggs independently owns and operates Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty with six offices in Dallas, Uptown, Lakewood, Ranch and Land, The Ballpark and Southlake.