East Texas Food Bank hopes to win thousands for students - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

East Texas Food Bank hopes to win thousands for students


The East Texas Food Bank is a finalist in Walmart's "Fighting Hunger Together" campaign, which will award 40 food banks with $45,000 for their child hunger programs.

The East Texas Food Bank said if they are awarded, they will dedicate the money to their BackPack Program.

"Our BackPack Program got started in response to the need that educators saw in the schools of children coming to school on Monday and being hungry. That's a real impediment to learning and to the children performing well in school and you know, you cannot get a good education unless you have the foundation of a nutritional diet," said East Texas Food Bank's Executive Director, Dennis Cullinane.

The BackPack Program helps alleviate child hunger by providing hungry children with nutritious and easy to prepare food over the weekends and on vacation, when school meal programs do not operate. 

The East Texas Food Bank said the backpacks come filled with easy-to-open food that does not require stove-top cooking. Students are sent home with single serving items with pop top cans like soup, peanut butter, fruit juice and shelf-stable milk.

East Texas mother Shaunelius Sterns said the program is a blessing.

"There's something in there for everybody because like my son, he likes certain things that comes in there, my daughter she likes certain things that are in there, I like certain things that are in there too," she said with a smile.

"I go through it pretty quickly because it is really good," said her son, 11-year-old Nehemiah Sterns.

Their favorite food items?

"Chocolate pudding, the applesauce, apple juice and the flamingo bars," said Nehemiah.

His younger sister has similar favorites.

"Pudding, cereal and the flamingo bars," said Yasmine Sterns.

The East Texas Food Bank said the typical backpack contains around three to five pounds of food amounting to just more than four dollars.

Empty backpacks are returned by the students and refilled for the following weekend.

The cost per child is $157 per year for a child to participate in a 36 week program which includes the backpack and food items.

Cullinane said they send out about 4,500 backpacks every week and it is still not enough. If they win the grant, he knows exactly where the money will go.

"The $45,000 would be a big boost to our BackPack Program. The most important thing we can do is make sure we are able to sustain this program," Cullinane said.

Davis said in order to help the East Texas Food Bank win Walmart's competition, you must have a Facebook account.

Every day in April, you can vote once for the East Texas Food Bank by clicking here.

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