New Program Helps Feed Children

By Cierra Putman
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Two ECISD elementary schools are taking a bite out of hunger, thanks to a new program.

It's called "Food to Kids," and its proving a few bucks can make a huge difference.

The volunteers for Food to Kids are food warriors.

They meet once a month to put together weekend meals for more than 400 students and their siblings.

"It breaks your heart," Libby Campbell with Food to Kids, said. "To know there are so many children in need to actually need to eat over the weekend. They just don't see food."

About 8,000 kids in Ector County go hungry on Saturday and Sunday. Teachers say hungry bellies always overshadow the three R's.

"It's one of our basic needs," Burleson Elementary Principal Lisa Anaya, said. "And if we can't meet the basic needs of our student's then education is not one of their priorities."

Burleson Elementary just joined the "Food to Kids" program a few weeks ago.

After a couple of months, Milam's principal has seen a big improvement.

"The biggest change that we've seen is on a Monday morning there's a little bit of a spring in their step and they're excited to come to school. They feel wanted, their academics have increased they're actually more alert as well after a weekend," Milam Principal, Staci Ashley, said.

Each kid gets a brown paper bag filled with foods that will not only fill them up but also give them proper nutrients. Some items they may receive include mandarin oranges, tuna salad and even low fat milk.

Each week, the cost per child is only $4, a small price for a big payoff.

"What happens is these kids are hungry, their families are hungry, so they're dropping out of school so they can go get jobs and they can go feed their families," Campbell said. "We're hoping that maybe this way they'll just stay in school just a little bit longer. They'll graduate and maybe that way they'll be able to get a better job and take better care of their families."

So maybe this program will help end the cycle of hunger.

The new program is made possible by the Junior League of Odessa, the education foundation, and the West Texas Food Bank.

To learn how to help out you can either call one of the groups or visit their web sites.