Program makes sure weekends don't mean hunger for ETX kids - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

Program makes sure weekends don't mean hunger for ETX kids

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An East Texas Food Bank truck loaded up to make its rounds throughout the area. An East Texas Food Bank truck loaded up to make its rounds throughout the area.
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

When kids get to school every morning, breakfast is there and ready for them. The same is true for lunch five days a week throughout the entire school year.

For some East Texas kids, the days they are not in school are more of a problem. Food is a real challenge for thousands of local families on the weekends, but one East Texas Food Bank program is trying to change that.

10-year-old Brianne Alvarado says she's glad her classmates don't ever hear her stomach growling on Monday mornings. Backpacks full of food go home with Brianne, and her six-year-old cousin Annie, every weekend. And they're not the only ones.

"The East Texas Food Bank, and our partner agencies, are providing about 5,000 backpacks now a week," said Dennis Cullinane, Executive Director of the East Texas Food Bank.

Cullinane says that number only represents about a quarter of the kids that qualify. That's literally thousands of kids the Food Bank needs more help to feed. 

"There are a lot of children that show up to school on Monday morning who haven't been able to eat during the weekend because their parents are unable to afford to feed them," Cullinane said. "This is to fill that gap."

According to Brianne's uncle, Jessie Shurum, it's working. He says he'll never forget his daughter's excitement the first time she brought her backpack full of food home. Shurum also says it's not just that his little girls have food, but the the quality of food is changing the way the family eats.

"She's losing weight now and she likes the food," Shurum said. "My family and I, we like it, we eat it all the time when she brings it home and now I'm starting to cook a little healthier at home."

When a bag full of food can do that, these kids have a much better chance of succeeding during the week as well.

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