The McCreless Gym on Wednesday night is a rockin’ place—filled with the excitement of 3-5 grade boys and girls playing games and having fun. But on the first Wednesday of each month, a different kind of excitement fills the air. As fifth grader Nathan Bell says, “We get to help others feel less worried about food.”
The new (this Fall) Wednesday Night Kids program includes recreation, Bible teaching and scripture learning, along with small group time, and the first Wednesday of each month brings all of the 3, 4 and 5 grade children, their adult and student leaders, and our college-aged ministry together to serve through kidPack, University’s subsidiary of Snack Pak for Kids San Antonio.
Inside each kidPack is 14 items of food, including protein, to help food insecure children make it through a weekend.
The goal of kidPack is simple: to provide weekend food supplements to serve the needs of chronically hungry children at Locke Hill Elementary. The process, however, is a bit more complicated. Because a main tenant of kidPack is honoring the dignity of each child recipient, much care is taken to privately obtain permission from the parent/guardian of each teacher-identified student who may be experiencing chronic hunger. Once permission is obtained, kidPacks are distributed to the child each Friday, discreetly placed in the child’s backpack by their teacher. Inside each kidPack is 14 items of food, including protein, to help food insecure children make it through a weekend.
Amy Tullos, Associate Director of Children’s Ministry, helped launch kidPack this Fall. “We know that hunger impacts a child’s ability to learn, but the truth is, when a parent or guardian is having to choose between paying an electricity bill or feeding children, the lack of food is a pervasive threat to an entire family’s existence. And it’s all around us; hunger is right in our backyard or next door. People who are food insecure look like everybody else.” Compelled to be part of the solution, Amy, Cathe Skinner, Assistant Director of Outreach, and two lay leaders, Pat Zamorano and Christine Robbins, began working on a plan that would allow our 3-5 grade children help end weekend hunger in the shadow of our steeple.
The assembly line is impressive, the smiling faces, contagious, and the understanding that they are helping others, priceless.
They began by educating our kids. Did you know that 1 in 4 children in Texas are food insecure? As 5 grader Brenden Ellis explains, “Food insecure means that kids wake up worrying that they won’t have food that day.” And in Bexar County alone, there are 120,000 children who are considered food insecure, and of that, 10-20% are chronically hungry, which means they lack adequate nutrition to lead a healthy, productive life. These are startling statistics, but our kids learn that they can be part of the solution. With the help and encouragement of our college students, these 8-10 year-olds pack a month’s worth of kidPacks for all of the identified children at Locke Hill in a matter of minutes. The assembly line is impressive, the smiling faces, contagious, and the understanding that they are helping others, priceless. At the end of the pack, the children and college students pray over the kidPacks, asking God to bless each child, each family that will receive them.
Our kids are also learning that serving others can be really fun! That’s where the college ministry students have shined: “My favorite part is when we run out of milk and shout, “Cow gone dry!” because that tells us we are finishing packing. The college students taught us to do that and other things that make it really fun,” says Nathan. For the college students, it’s all about the opportunity to give back. College Ministry Intern, Jordan Jernigan says, “We were passionate about having a community project we could commit to and serving our local elementary school alongside our children at University seemed like the perfect opportunity!”
If you are interested in being part of the solution to end weekend food insecurity at Locke Hill Elementary by helping fund this project or delivering the food packs on Fridays, please contact Amy Tullos, .