East Texas Food Bank reaching out to Tyler ISD students. - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

East Texas Food Bank reaching out to Tyler ISD students.

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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

The East Texas Food Bank is reaching out to Tyler ISD students.

They are expanding their BackPack Program to all 18 elementary schools in Tyler ISD, something the food bank says is important to students' health and success.

"Your physical health is the foundation to be able to learn, to achieve what you need to achieve in school, to become contributors to our society and to build a stronger community," says Dennis Cullinane, Executive Director of the East Texas Food Bank.

The program is designed to close the weekend "hunger gap" for children in need. Students are given backpacks every Friday that are filled with easy-to-prepare food items, such as soup, granola bars, fruit and juice.

Nearly 70% of TISD's elementary students are eligible for free and reduced-price school meal programs.

"It's a critical program because the TISD children are almost three times more at risk than the average children, either in the county or in the service area," Cullinane says.

Mentoring Minds, a local business, donated $150,000 on Thursday to help the Food Bank cover the cost of their five-year expansion plan.

The BackPack Program expansion plan is expected to cost nearly $1 million dollars.

Cullinane says there are ways you can help the program, besides donating money.

"We urge our community to become fully involved in the program. That means donate food, donate money, and also come by the food bank to donate your time."

Right now, the East Texas Food Bank's BackPack Program serves 4,500 children every week. 

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