Food drive to get head start on tackling hunger

Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Joy Moton | Staff Writer

The McLennan County Hunger Coalition will host the seventh annual “Spring Onto Summer” Food Drive on from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday to build food supplies of Waco food pantries in order to serve the expected large number of people needing food assistance this summer.

Waco is one of the largest food deserts in the country year-round, but the issue of child hunger worsens in the summer when many children are home from school and cannot receive free meals provided in schools.

During the school year, students are eligible to receive free or reduced price meals. Bob Gager from The Shepherd’s Heart food pantry said summer meal programs are not well attended so many children have to be fed at home.

“In Waco ISD, we run about 95 percent of children free and reduced lunches,” Gager said. “Our summer feeding numbers dropped to about 10 percent of those kids getting food. What happens is while the kids are out of school and on summer vacations, entire families go on vacation so donations go down significantly in the summer.”

The food drive is designed to address the anticipated increase in hunger issues in Waco.

“Spring Onto Summer Drive is helping us to stock up a little bit and be prepared for lots of utilization of the food pantries as school ends and we go into the summer months,” said Buddy Edwards of Caritas.

For the drive, volunteers will hand out lists of needed food items and encourage shoppers to purchase such items while in the store. The list of needed food items include canned meats, canned vegetables, cereals, baby food, peanut butter, macaroni & cheese, dry beans, rice, corn meal and pasta/sauces. Monetary donations will also be accepted.

Food that is collected will be donated to Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantries in Waco, Salvation Army and Caritas of Waco.

Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Brookshire Brothers and KXXV-TV–Channel 25 are serving as corporate sponsors for the drive. Individuals are encouraged to donate food to one of the following locations between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

· Wal-Mart, 1521 N IH-35, Bellmead

· Wal-Mart, 600 S. Hewitt Dr., Hewitt

· Wal-Mart, 4320 Franklin, Waco

· Wal-Mart 733 Sun Valley Blvd, Hewitt

· Sam’s Club, 2301 E. Waco Drive, Bellmead

· Brookshire’s Food Stores, 100 Peplow St., Robinson

“We give to help one another and what we have done with our agencies is put a vehicle together that allows us to collect people who give so that we can give to people in need,” Gager said.

For information about how to donate to the food drive, go to www.shepherdsheartpantry.org, contact Bob Gager at 254-722-9517 or shepherds.heart@yahoo.com or Buddy Edwards at 254-722-7698 or bedwards@caritas-waco.org.

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