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sad-child-school.jpgA few weeks into my daughter’s first-grade year, I began receiving reports of her getting into trouble. This wasn’t like my child; she was a normal, happy child.

However, my daughter’s teacher said she was talking back and not getting along with her friend whom she had known a very long time.

All she had for breakfast was a piece of toast. The bills didn’t allow for much more. When she came home from school, the first thing she told me was what they had eaten for lunch. She asked what we were eating because she was starving.

There were no fruits or vegetables. Ramen noodles were common at that point. If you looked in our cabinets or refrigerator, you would have assumed I either didn’t know how to cook or was starving my poor child.

When you are down to $10 a week for food, what do you do?

We were denied food stamps. Disability benefits disappeared and child support payments were scarce. While obtaining my degree, my daughter and I became homeless.

I felt helpless.

I was on disability benefits because I became partially paralyzed at the age of 6, after suffering a stroke. After I graduated with my B.B.A. in accounting, I had many dreams. I believed – and still to this day believe – all is possible.

In 2011, right before my daughter started first grade, I got a new job. I was excited. I found out about Snack Pak 4 Kids. I had many encounters with Dyron Howell, the founder of Snack Pak 4 Kids. After I heard about this program, I thought about how inspiring and beneficial it was.

shannon-gonzales-daughter-sp4kAfter the school year began, my disability benefits ceased because I made a slight bit over the required amount.

Because it took them a few months to complete the ineligibility processing, I ended up owing money to Social Security.

I thought for sure I would qualify for food stamps. However, I found out that because my daughter’s father made sporadic child support payments that I didn’t qualify.

Really? Is this how it is supposed to be? Bills upon bills? Ten dollars a week for food? Then my daughter started getting reports from her teacher. I did all I could to maintain composure at my new job.

Dyron came to visit one day. He was asking about my daughter and her new year. When he did, I broke down. I told him what was going on and he asked if Snack Pak 4 Kids would help.

Yes! Yes! He was able to get in touch with the appropriate people to ensure my daughter had a Snack Pak that Friday and every Friday throughout the school year.

A month later, I noticed such a difference in my daughter. She was upbeat and happy again. I continually checked in with her teacher about my daughter’s behavior. I was pleased to hear she was beginning to shine in both her grades and her behavior. She was also helping other kids complete their work.

Snack Pak 4 Kids helped give my child a source of nutritious food I was not able to provide at the time. When I was truly struggling, I knew the Snack Paks were a constant that wasn’t going to disappear.

After helping us in its second year and watching it continue to grow, I am truly amazed by the people that care about hunger and the community of support behind this program.

Snack Pak 4 Kids is a dear program to me. Thank you, Snack Pak 4 Kids and volunteers! With each act you do, you are making a huge difference in the life of a child!

Fast forward to now, and my daughter is doing great. She is at Fannin Middle School and is in two advanced placement classes. She is also practicing to try out for the basketball team this coming October.

I am now an accountant at Amarillo College and love the work I do. We are in the process of building a home that will be completed by the end of this year. Step by step, we have worked at building our life back up. Thank you all for standing beside us along the way.  

When you volunteer with or donate to SP4K, you help make a difference in the lives of people like Shannon Gonzales and her daughter. Let’s work together to end weekend hunger.


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