north texas food bank

Fighting Hunger: School Pantry Helps Make the Grade

Once a month, the North Texas Food Bank brings dry goods and produce to schools in Dallas and Collin counties

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On Thursday afternoon, as school let out for the day at Lenore K. Hall Elementary in Dallas, the school pantry opened for business.

"We should have about 300 people here today," said Madison Messinger, administrator of the North Texas Food Bank Children's Program.

"There's always a line," parent Maria Nunez said.

Once a month, Nunez and other families from the school line up to get dry goods and produce. All of it is free and available to anyone at the school, from students, to staff, to the crossing guard.

"Some of them are proud," Gayline Montez said.

Montez is a teaching assistant who helps coordinate the school pantry at Hall Elementary. She said having help available to everyone takes the stigma out of getting help.

"When people show up on dreary, rainy days we know that there's a reason the food bank exists and why we do what we do," Messinger said.

In North Texas, one in five children is food insecure, meaning they don't know where their next meal will come from. At Hall Elementary the number is higher.

Ninety percent of students at the school are on free or reduced lunch. The neighborhood surrounding the school has fast food options, but no healthy food that's easily accessible or affordable.

"We're normally used to other types of food," Nunez said, as she left with boxes of dry good and fresh produce. "Now, with the food they give us, we can make healthy food for the kids."

That has had some positive side effects.

"Since they give us fruits and vegetables, if we eat them, they help us with our brain," fifth grader Zoe Marentes said.

Principal Olga Romero said test scores have improved in the seven years the North Texas Food Bank school pantry has been operated at the school.

"Our children are getting more attentive," Romero said. "They're participating more and we have more parental participation in our school."

For more information on the North Texas Food Bank's children's programs, click here.

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