Tarrant County

Nonprofit Launches Program to Fight Hunger and Feed Families

The nonprofit ChatNChew added the program when volunteers learned kids would not have access to food over spring break

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A nonprofit in Tarrant County that goes by the name ChatNChew was formed by a group of women having lunch and discovering their shared passion to serve others.

Marvee McLendon founded the nonprofit in 2017 with a mission driven by her past as an abused, homeless single parent.

"It was definitely a tough time in my life but there's a purpose in that, and that purpose is being lived out today," she said.

The goal is to restore stability for single parents who are experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. Recently, McLendon and her volunteers learned of food insecurity at a Fort Worth ISD elementary school where they've helped in the past.

"She recently asked me, 'What else can we do? What do you need?' And, I said, 'Well, I had a dream of us being able to do more of a food program for the kids," said Kelly Gillham, the counselor at Springdale Elementary School.

From that request, McLendon launched Bridges, an outreach to bridge the gap for hungry kids on weekends when other resources are not available. The first mission was to feed kids over spring break.

Student gets cans of food to bridge the gap when school is not in session.

"We stepped up, and we were really expecting 10 to 15 families, but it turned out to be 100 families," McLendon said.

"It was so moving. I can remember one child going through the bag, and they were tailored to foods children especially like," Gillham said.

"If they don't eat granola, then we would not put granola bars in their sack. So they give us a list of what they need, and that's what we fill their bags with," McLendon said. "And with the help of our community and volunteers, we were able to provide meals for these kids and we would like to continue that because it is a need. It's a basic necessity of life and kids can't go to school hungry."

Volunteers and community members buy food like Frosted Flakes, Honey Nut Cheerios, snack-sized Gold Fish, fruit cups and cans of microwaveable Chef Boyardee Ravioli and Spaghetti-O's. A wish list on Amazon gets the donations directly to ChatNChew for distribution.

The volunteers will return to Springdale every Friday at dismissal to pass out bags of food to families that sign up for the help. McLendon describes the families as very low income who were struggling before the pandemic. For some, a car or paying for gas to get to a food bank is a luxury.

"Our ultimate goal is we would like to have a mobile food pantry that can go to these families," McLendon said.

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