This week Frenship students, along with the Rotary Club of Lubbock and several other community business partners, filled backpacks with food for students over the extended holiday break.
Each year as the District grows, so does the number of children that experience the hunger crisis. This year, Frenship partnered with the Rotary Club of Lubbock, the First Baptist Church of Lubbock, Calvary Baptist Church, Parkhill, Smith and Cooper, Aramark, R. E. Janes Gravel, Lone Start State Bank, Marsh and McLennan Agency, Open Road Mobility, and United Supermarkets, for the Frenship Food Backpack Project.
Keith Patrick, Director of Entrepreneurship & Innovation for Frenship, said because of fast District growth, Frenship has added more funding partners and has adapted the project to accommodate each student.
“The Rotary Club of Lubbock and their foundation contribute around half of the funds and our membership plans the program,” Patrick said. “In addition, multiple community partners contribute the other half of the funds and Rotary manages the budget for the program and works directly with Kyle Elliott at United Supermarkets to place the large food order.”
Patrick explained that this is where many students and community partners then get involved in this process.
“United delivers the food to the Casey building and on the Monday prior to packing the Superintendent’s Advisory Board unpacks and stages the food on tables, counted out for each campus to make packing easier,” Patrick said. “On packing day Rotary Club and community partner volunteers, Frenship staff, and students from Willow Bend Elementary Student Council join in a big packing party filling more than 400 backpacks and string bags with food for the Christmas break.”
Natalia Moore is part of the Board of Directors for the Rotary Club of Lubbock. She said that the planning process for this project starts in June each year.
“The first thing we do is plan out the schedule to figure out what deadlines we have in order to make this happen,” Moore said. “There are so many people that come together to make this all work.”
Moore said the Rotary club fundraises for several months by applying for grants, fundraising within the club, and coordinating with Keith Patrick to fundraise with community business partners.
“This year we were able to secure over $8,000 from business partners, and the rest came from the Rotary club,” Moore said. “This is about an $18,000 project.”
Moore expressed her gratitude for United Supermarkets. She said they do most of the leg work by taking the budget, figuring out of much money can be spent on each child, and then using the funds to provide as much as they can for each child.
“We try to make sure we focus on foods that are easy to prepare, or require no preparation, but we also try to focus on healthier options within those limitations,” Moore said. “You’ll see in the bags that we are providing vegetables, fresh fruits, rice, bread, and many other things.”
Moore said that she, and the Rotary Club, believe that this project does more than help fight hunger for these children.
“We know that hunger has long-term repercussions, so we know that it’s not just about providing some meals over 17 days,” Moore said. “We know that nutrition contributes to a child’s ability to learn, to grow and develop, and psychologically as well. We realize that with this project, it’s not just about feeding for 17 days, but it’s about the effects of the feeding that keep giving when these kids come back to school.”
J.D. Harvey, FHS Senior and long-time member of the Superintendent’s Advisory Board, helped organize the food on the day before packing began.
Harvey expressed that this project is near and dear to his heart, “It hits me a little harder each year because the numbers grow.”
Harvey said that though it is hard work, he knows that so many students will benefit from the efforts of the advisory board, Willow Bend students, and community partners.
“It’s a bittersweet kind of thing,” Harvey said. “It makes me happy to see us all helping others and knowing that when these kids get their backpacks, they know it was packed by so many people that want them to make it through the break without being hungry, but it also hits me that there are so many that rely on these backpacks to get through the break.”
Harvey said that projects like these are why he loves being a part of the Frenship family.
“It just makes me so happy and humbled to know that so many people can come together to make sure everyone at Frenship is okay.”