One afternoon, while eating lunch with my friend, Susan Brown, I sensed she was overwhelmed and I asked what was going on. As the sponsor of Tascosa’s FISH (Friends in Service for Hunger) Club, the student organization that facilitates our Snack Pak 4 Kids program, she had developed an ever-growing group of incredible student leaders, and she needed help managing the daily business of the group. I volunteered and quickly began to learn the ins and outs of this phenomenal program. My good fortune happened nearly six years ago, and each day I am still in awe of the powerful impact a group of like-minded teenagers can have on a school and its surrounding community.
Of course, the best part of working with Snack Shak is knowing that our food insecure students will always have food when needed. This was a given, but what I hadn’t fully understood was all of the components of the Tascosa program, and how they all came together so beautifully to ensure a student had the bag of food he or she needed. First and foremost, the key to our success is our student leaders who pack and deliver bags each week. Without these students’ time and dedication, Tascosa’s Snack Shak would not exist. Period.
Next, we have wonderful staff who step up and help out when unexpected events arise. For example, our FISH Club students had packed and delivered nearly 280 bags during the two weeks leading up to Christmas break this year. They were exhausted, and still had semester exams to prepare for. An email was sent to our staff asking for help, and they selflessly heeded the call. Our generous staff delivered the last seventy bags which ensured our students and their families would not have to worry about food over the holidays.
Finally, did I mention our faculty and their giving spirit? Hunger does not take a break over the summer, and neither does our Snack Shak program. If you visit Portable 2 any summer Thursday morning at 9 AM, you will see Tascosa staff and/or their family and friends packing and delivering bags for students who have expressed a need. The summer deliveries are different from those that happen during the school year though, as these bags are delivered to the student’s home. Thursday mornings are a time to catch up with friends, meet new people, help guide new-to-packing children on how to create a bag and, of course, serve our community. The Tascosa family is a great family to be a part of.
I will admit, I spent many years working with the this program not fully aware of where the food came from, who paid for it, or the process of how it got to my school. All of these questions were answered when I attended my first official training at the Snack Pak 4 Kids warehouse. I didn’t think it was possible to be more inspired by this program, that is, until I met Dyron. Listening to him speak about hunger and the evolution of his idea left me even more motivated and speechless. Actually, the speechless part is a lie. I came home and talked about the big idea behind Snack Pak 4 Kids and Dyron to my husband pretty much non-stop. Turns out, he was listening.
After hearing Kisaundra speak so highly of Dyron and the Snack Pak 4 Kids program, I decided to talk with my principal and the coordinator of the Snack Pak program at my school to see if I could offer help. After talking with them, it was decided that I would take over the Snack Pak 4 Kids program at South Lawn Elementary. My decision was an easy one as I am someone who enjoys seeking out opportunities to help my school in any way that I can.
South Lawn has a diverse population with many students who are food insecure. We know that when a student is hungry, he or she will not be able to focus and participate in class. South Lawn is fortunate to have a partnership with South Georgia Baptist Church, who not only pack our Snack Paks, but also deliver these same bags of food for our student’s each Thursday.
I am grateful to work at a school with a staff who are so focused on the well being of our students. We have created a school community that does everything that it can to ensure our students are ready to learn. This dedication to our student’s success is important for all, but it is critical for a student who is in need.
Growing up, I was friends with someone who benefitted from a strong community that cared. Willie was a few years younger than me, and we met when we lived on the same street in a small Texas Panhandle town. After his parents divorced, he and his siblings found themselves with no supervision and/or a real home to call their own. Throughout the years, Willie bounced around from home to home seeking guidance, shelter and food. This small town took Willie in and provided him with everything he needed to become a strong family man. For me personally, Willie was not just a friend, he was like my little brother.
When I look back and see how the impact of a community looking out and caring for Willie changed his life, I feel motivated to do whatever I can for my student’s at South Lawn Elementary. I am honored to serve my students, their families, and the community through my work with the Snack Pak 4 Kids program.