East Texas Food Bank recognized for backpack program - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

TYLER (KLTV)

East Texas Food Bank recognized for backpack program

The USDA Under-secretary visited an East Texas school today in support of a food bank program that feeds children who are at risk of hunger. Under-secretary Nancy Johner says one in four Texas children go to bed hungry.

"School lunch should be as important as any academic class, as math and science, because if you don't have food you can't learn. And if you don't learn, you can't develop and you won't be able to be a productive citizen to make it in this world."

The East Texas Food Bank organizes the backpack program. KLTV 7's Courtney Lane gives us a closer look at how it works and how it gives needy families and hungry children a fighting chance. Keeping kids healthy and safe - no cooking or heating is necessary with these items. Plus, it's a treat for these kids, and may keep them from going to bed hungry.

"This one is my favorite one to eat, it's spaghetti," said Brittney Gorman with Douglas Elementary.

"A lot of people aren't aware that this is their only meal they get is at school either breakfast or lunch. So on the weekends, they actually get to have some food that will get them through Monday," said Johner.

The families who qualify are working, but the Food Bank says they may not have benefits or have had hours cut back, so they're struggling to make ends meet.

"As we know, people are losing jobs left and right, we also know the high price of food is making an impact," said Johner.

With the backpack program, kids also learn to snack healthy. And there's a bit of fun mixed in, too.

"Some of them probably use this backpack and the food that comes in that backpack. So they are probably just grateful and happy that they have people who care about them to provide to them," said Johner.

Under-secretary Johner also recognized the East Texas Food Bank, not only for providing nearly 25,000 pounds of food during HJurricane Ike but for organizing programs just like this on a daily basis.

The East Texas Food Bank says even before Hurricanes Ike and Gustav hit, they saw a 12% increase in hungry families.

Courtney Lane, reporting. clane@kltv.com

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