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“Blessings In A Backpack” Helps Provide Food For Houston Kids

There are hundreds of children who might not have enough to eat if it weren’t for a program at a local church.

At Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Spring Branch, volunteers fill the shelves of a pantry with things that kids like to eat. There are cans of chili, granola bars, and boxes of macaroni and cheese.

We meet Melissa Peter, the program director of Bayou City Blessings in a Backpack. It’s the local chapter of a nationwide organization that helps provide food on weekends for low-income schoolchildren.

“We have a bit of a formula with the menus we produce for our kids,” says Peter. “And every week we send about seven items home every Friday. And that’s every Friday of the 38 weeks of school.”

Peter says they’re currently providing assistance to about 850 kids at Blackshear Elementary in the Third Ward and Spring Shadows Elementary in West Houston.

Those kids get breakfast and lunch at school, but sometimes on the weekends there’s not enough to go around at home. The organization provides the kids with a bag of food they can tuck in a backpack and share with others in their family.

Now as for why the kids may not have enough to eat, Peter says some of them live in food deserts, places that don’t have a convenient supermarket.

“Lack of transportation, lack of financial resources, lack of opportunity make it really difficult for families to access food,” adds Peter.

And when the kids are eating on the weekends, they return to school Monday ready to learn.

“Education is the key to finding your way out of certain situations,” says Peter. “So if we can in any way inspire or help a child be successful in their school, then we’ve been successful.”

Peter says it costs about $85,000 to run the program. She adds they’d like to help more kids in the future and they’re always looking for volunteers.

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Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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