AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Snack Pak 4 Kids along with the Fill with Hope program continues to serve students in the community facing food insecurity.
Both programs deliver food to students once a week in Amarillo and Canyon school districts at no cost to students or their families.
According to Snack Pak 4 Kids executive director Dyron Howell during the summer they fed 4,000 students every Friday, compared to last summer when they fed 2,000 kids every Friday.
“What that tells me is we’re going to be busy this fall,” Howell. “What you see behind me is the bags that have already been packed. We’ll deliver this week to our kids because we know our kids need help. Hunger doesn’t take the weekend off.”
This school year it will cost $20,000 a week to feed students in the program.
“We spent over $1.1 million last year to make sure AISD students had the best and so it is a significant investment, but I think it’s a priceless investment for our future,” said Howell.
Middle and high school students in AISD can access the snack shack online through their school website under the resources for students tab and select what items they want and where they would like them delivered.
Elementary students can have teachers, counselors or parents enroll them in the program.
“We don’t single kids out,” said Howell. “If they need help in high school, they can go online and get the food that they need. In middle school, they can go online and get the food that they need. In elementary, there’s a no questions asked policy, they need help we help them. So, depending on the age of the student, we have a very different approach. All along, it’s to preserve their dignity, and to read them with respect.”
According to a Snack Pak 4 Kids survey, 69% of AISD teachers said the program helped improve academic performance.
Howell continued, “The bottom line is these kids can’t learn if they’re hungry. They can change the world if they’re full. Our job is to meet them where they are. Our job is to listen to them to give them a voice and not discount the situation they’re in. So, if they’re telling us the brand is important, then we need to act on that.”
The best way to help Snack Pak 4 Kids is by donating money to help purchase brand-name, brand-new food. As well as volunteering to stuff totes and deliver them to schools.
Fill With Hope serves 1300 students in Canyon and delivers the hope totes on Fridays according to Executive Director Cindy Sheets.
“We are blessed to feed hungry children as well as provide help to those kids right here in our Canyon school district, ” said Sheets. “Our bags do vary, but we regularly have our meat sticks in there. We also have vanilla or chocolate puddings, we have peanut butter crackers, on occasion, granola bars, special Capri Sun 100% fruit drinks.”
For students in Canyon who are facing food insecurity, they can reach out to teachers, counselors, or directly to Fill with Hope.
“As far as getting the food to our older kiddos, we do rely on a referral program,” said Sheets. So, we might hear from the nurses that are within the schools, the ag teacher, even coaches come to us, and they can keep that food confidentially in their offices if you will, and the students can pick those up at different locations throughout the school at their convenience.”
Parents of elementary students can reach out to school officials or Fill with Hope and the bags will be placed in their child’s locker.
The best way to support Fill with Hope is by donating.
“The very best way to get involved is to sponsor a child in our program, we have over 1300 students that are registered to receive are filled with hope totes,” said Sheets. “They go online to fill with help.org and sponsor a child for only $15 a month.
In September Fill with Hope will host a golf tournament to raise money. Registration is $180 a person and the money will go towards sponsoring a child in the program.