Gleaming Cities But Hungry Children: DMN Charities Launches Summer Food Drive for North Texas Kids

For some North Texas children, the long, languorous days of summer, unburdened by school or homework, also bring a dreaded companion: hunger.One of every 4 children in North Texas suffers from food insecurity, an issue heightened in the summer, when many children can no longer access the free or reduced meal options offered at school. "This is an unseen need," said Camille Grimes, executive director of The Dallas Morning News Charities. "It's easy to think about the excitement of summer for school kids, all the activities, but if children aren't properly fueled up they can't engage in that."Through July 10, DMN Charities is raising money for seven North Texas organizations that are offering summer programs to feed hungry children.Agencies taking part in the initiative, which launched Wednesday, are Allen Community Outreach; Brother Bill's Helping Hand and Crossroads Community Services, both in Dallas; Frisco Family Services; Network of Community Ministries in Richardson; the North Texas Food Bank; and Sharing Life in Mesquite.Leaders at Allen Community Outreach and Frisco Family Services said that convincing people of the need for assistance in what many regard as wealthy cities can be difficult. A major part of their work includes "dispelling the myth" of widespread prosperity. "It's not obvious that there's a need here," Allen Community Outreach CEO Marjorie Burr said. "It's not your typical highly populated area with homeless people on the streets. And because it's not constantly on people's minds, they don't realize it's there."Grimes said the outward appearance of affluence in some North Texas suburbs belies the reality: Many residents only earn minimum wage in fast food, retail and other low-paying fields. Nicole Bursey, the executive director of Frisco Family Services, echoed the concern, saying that poverty exists in the suburbs — it's just harder to see. Needs also differ from city to city. In Richardson, serving hungry families requires a special approach because of the large number of Asian immigrants who live there, said Tina Floyd, director of development and marketing for Network of Community Ministries. Floyd said her organization takes a one-on-one approach to overcome any cultural barriers to accepting aid. It also stocks fresh produce for recent immigrants who aren't as familiar with processed foods. Last year, the Network of Community Ministries pantry distributed about 700,000 pounds of food to 7,000 people. Over the coming summer months, it hopes to help 500 children with its Big Meals for Little Kids program, which targets economically disadvantaged children for assistance.DMN Charities' food-for-kids drive had raised over $12,000 as of Wednesday. The campaign's goal is to raise at least $80,000. Just under $81,000 was raised in last year's drive. In 2017, the total came to about $105,000.Organizations use the funds in different ways, though all funds must go toward the same cause: feeding children in need. Some agencies host free day-camps that include meals for the children, while others distribute food from pantries and make packs of food specifically for kids.The food is usually kid-friendly and easy-to-prepare, with items like macaroni and cheese, fruit, ready soups, bread and lunch meat and granola bars. Many of the items are cause for celebration in households where buying snacks isn't financially viable. Bursey said one single father told her that Frisco Family Service's food packs saved him from having to refuse to buy snacks for his children at a time when he had money only for the most critical purchases. She recalled him telling her that she couldn't imagine how hard it was to say no."It’s one thing as a parent not to know where your meal is going to come from," Bursey said. "It’s another thing not to know where your kid's meal will come from."Participating agenciesALLEN COMMUNITY OUTREACH Services: Emergency assistance with rent, utilities, food and clothing for families in Allen, Fairview and Lucas. Financial literacy and GED classes are also offered.In-kind needs: pop-top soups, canned pasta, jelly and sturdy, reusable grocery bagsBROTHER BILL'S HELPING HANDServices: Food, clothing and medical assistance for families in West Dallas. Job training, parenting, healthy living and ESL classes are also offered.In-kind needs: backpacks and school suppliesCROSSROADS COMMUNITY SERVICESServices: Food, nutrition, clothing and life skills education. In-kind needs: food and school suppliesFRISCO FAMILY SERVICES CENTERServices: Food, clothing and financial assistance with rent/mortgages, utilities and prescription drugs to families living in Frisco or Frisco ISD. Adult life skills workshops are also offered. In-kind needs: macaroni and cheese cups, ravioli cups, ramen noodles, cereal, cereal bars, oatmeal, muffin bites, Pop-Tarts, fruit snacks, fruit cups, apple sauce cups, pudding cups, jello cups, chips, pretzels, cheese crackers, cookies, veggie chips and fruit roll-upsNETWORK OF COMMUNITY MINISTRIES Services: Food, clothing, financial assistance for rent and utilities, as well as a children's clinic and comprehensive Seniors' Net program for those 60 and older. Serves families within Richardson ISD. In-kind needs: microwaveable meals (canned ravioli, spaghetti, pop-top toups, quick-cook pasta pouches, macaroni and cheese etc.), fruit and veggie cups, drinks, applesauce, fruit snacks, granola bars, jerky, jello and pudding cups, Pop-Tarts, cereal, oatmeal, and single-serving containers of pretzels, crackers and cookiesNORTH TEXAS FOOD BANKServices: Food 4 Kids program provides weekend food assistance for elementary school children at risk of being chronically hungry. The agency's Our Community Pantry is a client-choice food pantry modeled after a traditional grocery store in South Dallas.In-kind needs: canned fruit and vegetables, dried or canned beans, canned tuna or chicken, whole-grain rice or pasta, healthy cereal and peanut butterSHARING LIFE COMMUNITY OUTREACH Services: Food, clothing and financial assistance for rent and utilities, educational programs and job skills training for low-income residents in southeastern Dallas County. In-kind needs: pop-top soups, canned meats and cerealTo donate or learn moreTo donate or learn more about The Dallas Morning News Charities and its summer food-for-kids program, visit All proceeds go toward providing meals for North Texas children in need.  Continue reading...

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