Suzy Herrmann leads an effort to feed 800 children every week through the summer.
Herrmann is the co-chair of Feed The Kids For Summer, an annual program that aims to provide food for Mansfield ISD children that rely on free or discounted breakfast and lunch during the school year over the summer break when those meals are not available.
“Thirty-nine percent of Mansfield ISD kids are on the free and reduced lunch and breakfast program,” Herrmann said. “That’s a lot and thinking about these kids going hungry just breaks my heart.”
On Wednesdays, starting today and running through Aug. 12, volunteers will pack five days worth of breakfast and lunch meals for food pantries in the area. The meals, which are made possible by monetary and physical donations, include items that children can microwave or eat as packaged including canned ravioli, tuna fish, fruit cups, cereal and more.
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“We worked with the nutritionist at MISD and talked about what foods would be good,” Herrmann said. “These are all foods kids would eat plus they're nutritious.”
Herrmann said they aim to feed 10,000 children this summer.
Making this effort possible also takes monetary donations. Co-chair Phil Stover said the program’s budget for this year is $55,000 and the organization can still use help getting there.
He said fundraising comes from groups all over the city, including clubs, churches, high school student drives and individuals. Stover said those interested in making a monetary donation can send cash or checks to the Common Ground Network - Feed The Kids For Summer at P.O. Box 1049, Mansfield, Texas 76063.
Children and their families are able to pick up the bags weekly at nine local food pantries at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Bar Cross Cowboy Church, Community Action Partners, East Broad Outreach Center, Harvesting International Ministry Center, St. Jude Catholic Church, Wesley Mission Center, Living Word Outreach and The Redeemed Christian Church of God.
Volunteers assemble enough bags to feed 800 to sometimes 1,000 hungry children. The effort is in its eighth year and also includes a summer reading program where children are given books and rewarded for reading. Herrmann said children who do not read during the summer break see a drop in their reading levels and the reading program allows them to maintain their current level or improve.
“Knowing that they are getting nutritious food and helping with their reading — it’s a win win,” she said. “There’s nothing better than making sure a kid is getting everything they need to be successful in school.”
Feeding this many children takes a large volunteer effort and Herrmann welcomes those interested in helping. Volunteers are needed every Wednesday until Aug. 12 from 10-11 a.m. to unload food from a truck and prepare items for bagging and from 6-7 p.m. to assemble the food items into bags and more. The work is done at First Baptist Church Mansfield, 1800 E. Broad St.
Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770
Feed The Kids For Summer volunteer information
Those interested in in volunteering can attend work sessions on Wednesdays until Aug. 12 at 10 a.m. or 6 p.m.
There will be another volunteer effort at 6:15 p.m. June 10 to distribute library books and Feed The Kids bags to pantries participating in the reading program.
Monetary donations of check or cash can be mailed to the Common Ground Network - Feed The Kids For Summer at P.O. Box 1049 Mansfield, Texas 76063.
For more information contact volunteer coordinator Bob Woodland at firstname.lastname@example.org or Phil Stover email@example.com.