Many cities in Collin County are among the richest in the country. With that status, it’s easy to forget about the vast number of kids and families who are food insecure. According to Feeding America, there were 105,240 food insecure people in Collin County in 2018.
Back in November 2011, four families found that out for themselves. They heard about six kids at Camey Elementary School in The Colony who were sent home from school every Friday with a backpack full of food. The reason? They weren’t getting enough to eat at home.
The school counselor then told the families that many kids would be hungry over the upcoming Thanksgiving break. Later, they found out that this problem wasn’t just limited to those six kids. Out of the nine schools in The Colony, four of the six elementary schools and both middle schools are considered Title 1, according to Lovepacs’ website. Essentially, this means at least 30% of the kids attending are on the free or reduced lunch program. On top of that, the families found through research that 73% of kids at one of the schools were living below the poverty line.
Those four families became the founding families of the non-profit Lovepacs, which helps keep kids fed over the weekends and holiday breaks. And the community showed out, donating enough to create 46 boxes of food. One box fed one child two meals and a snack every day — enough to cover the nine-day Thanksgiving break.
Now they plan to do the same this summer.
“The thought of kids not eating touched the hearts of our families, and we began Lovepacs to try to fill in the gaps for these children over the holidays,” Lovepacs’ website reads.
Although Lovepacs started in The Colony, Kristen Ellwood, Lovepacs Frisco community co-lead, said it expanded to Frisco just a few years later. They’ve now expanded to serve kids in Little Elm, Castle Hills, Aubrey, Austin, Denton, Lewisville, Plano, Prosper and Cy-Fair, in addition to The Colony and Frisco.
Specifically, Lovepacs serves kids on the free and reduced lunch program in public schools. For example, Frisco ISD has a system set up where families who qualify for these lunch programs can ask for information about additional support, Ellwood said. And if they want additional support, they can get an application for Lovepacs Frisco. The application gives the non-profit their names, emails, schools attended, number of kids and which holiday breaks they want boxes.
Lovepacs Frisco staff also works with school counselors and administrators to find out which kids need food. Along with that, they mostly give out their food boxes during extended school breaks, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring break and Easter.
The food inside the boxes consists of 57 non-perishables, and things that are easy to open and require minimal cooking. Each covers breakfast, lunch and snacks for each day students are on a holiday break. They also provide school counselors with fully-stocked snack closets and hygiene products for kids who need them.
For the 2020-2021 school year alone, Lovepacs Frisco has provided more than 2,750 food boxes for families, according to a Lovepacs Frisco press release.
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and winter storm Uri, many families are struggling. This is evident through Lovepacs Frisco’s work. Ellwood said half of the people they’re serving this year hadn’t received their assistance before. Because of that, Ellwood said they knew they had to provide another round of boxes. For the first time, Lovepacs Frisco is providing boxes before summer starts.
But they couldn’t do it alone. Lovepacs teamed up with Refresh Frisco, a non-profit that provides customized bags of hygiene products for students, to distribute the bonus boxes. Refresh Frisco’s “Refresh Packs” contain full-sized hygiene products based on the kid’s age and gender preference.
Families who are registered for the boxes can drive-thru and get food and hygiene boxes. The first pick-up day was on Monday, May 10. But the second will be held on Saturday, May 15 at the Preston Trail Community Church’s Frisco campus from 1-3 p.m.
Ellwood said they have over 600 boxes “packed and ready” for families who need them.
“It is our prayer that this round of boxes helps families kick-start the summer with a full pantry and it reminds them that they are not in this alone,” the release reads. “We try to make sure everything sent to the families we serve tells them that we are thankful that they allow us to walk alongside them as they meet the needs of their children.”
To donate money to Lovepacs Frisco, click here. To donate food to Lovepacs Frisco, click here. If you want to volunteer with Lovepacs Frisco, click here. To donate money to Refresh Frisco, click here. To donate hygiene products to refresh Frisco, click here.