In October of 2018, Love and Care Ministries made the commitment to provided CarePack for Kids for Abilene Independent School District, plus many other ISDs within their service area. They started by being trained in an established program called Snack Pak 4 Kids. They were so impressed with the program we decided to birth the same program here in the Abilene area. By January of 2019 they were set up to serve the 1st school that badly needed help. With the collaborative help of many, CarePack for Kids began. They provided over 40,000 CarePacks during the 2019-20 school year.
Love & Care Ministries has area donors who are proud to offer CarePak for Kids that provides a weekend child-feeding program. This "backpack" program is designed to send child-friendly food home with hungry children over the weekends who have little or no food at home. Many of these children are on the free school lunch program and their parents rely on the school cafeteria as the main source of food for their child. Parents who are struggling and need assistance feeding their child on weekends are given the opportunity to have their child participate in this program. On Fridays, or the last day of each school week, the school coordinator will see that the child discretely receives a free bag of food items in his or her backpack before the school day ends; this food will feed the child at home over the weekend. .
The District 5790 matching grant for $216.00 added to the Abilene Southwest amount of $216.00 will help Love & Care Ministries bring relief to children with food insecurities. The following impacts shown below will be reduced.
Food Insecure: If a child does not get enough food outside of school, he/she is considered "food insecure." The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as households that are uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet basic needs of all their members because of insufficient money or other resources. When the guardian of a child must choose between food and other necessities, e.g., having electricity shut off because they do not have enough money, it is an indicator of food insecurity. A child will not necessarily tell you that he or she does not have enough food at home, but through observation you can begin to see patterns and/or behavior that will set them apart. How do you identify a hungry child? Here are some examples: A chronically hungry child will be anxious for a meal to be served. Perhaps they rush the cafeteria line, or they are showing up early for breakfast. During the meal they will eat all the food, not being picky in what they have placed before them. One indicator of hunger is that a child cleans his plate and will not carelessly throw portions of it away. They will also linger around for second helpings or even ask for more.
Home Environment: Sometimes children will be very open about what is going on at home. For example, a child may say that her dad has lost a job and that the mother does not work. By listening to the students and by being in contact with parents, the needs of the family can be assessed, which in turn can help determine whether the child needs to be receiving a backpack weekly. A single parent family where the parent works on the weekend is probably a situation in which CarePack 4 Kids can help a child who may be responsible for fixing their own meal. If the parent can fix meals for the child but may be limited on the amount of food available, it may be more beneficial to refer the family to a food pantry. CarePack 4 Kids is designed for children who are not able to get enough food at home due to neglect or other circumstances that prevent them from having regular access to food. Research suggests that adequate nutrition has a positive link for a child's learning capabilities. In schools that provide CarePak for Kids, teachers are trained to play a vital role in identifying children who have food insecurity.
Physical Signs: Children who suffer from food insecurity often exhibit the following signs: puffy or swollen skin, chronically dry/cracked lips, chronically dry/itchy eyes, hyperactivity, irritability, or withdrawn or aggressive, having problems getting along with others and excessively sick or absent from school. They could be extremely thin; however, some may be obese because of eating the wrong kinds of food.