OPINION COLUMNS

The ‘Caring’ began Tuesday, but more is needed

By Brian Knox | Published Thursday, June 9, 2011

HEALTHY MEALS - Tables covered with bags of food awaited the arrival of kids Tuesday morning at the Decatur ISD support services building. Messenger photo by Brian Knox

Decatur showed it cared earlier this week. Or more specifically, volunteers with the Decatur Cares program exhibited a willingness to help their neighbors.

Tables arranged end to end filled with 600 plastic bags of food stretched the length of a school hallway early Tuesday. But as the morning wore on, the bags began to disappear and the tables were put away as children who qualified for the program arrived to pick up their food.

Brian Knox

In the bags was enough food for five meals for children. Teenagers also qualified for a “supplement” bag that featured a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly. Food will be distributed each Tuesday throughout the summer.

The bags also contained information on eating nutritious meals and community summer activities for kids.

Mayor Joe Lambert, who was one of the volunteers on hand to help hand out the bags of food, said about $42,000 of the $50,000 needed to pay for the summer-long project has been collected. If you’d like to donate to help the project reach its goal, Lambert suggested making donations at the following Decatur churches who are sponsoring the program: First Methodist, First Baptist and Victory Family. Checks may be made out to “Decatur Cares Program.”

The $50,000 will feed 200 children one meal a day for the 11 weeks of summer. Students who qualified for free and reduced lunches at school also qualified for the Decatur Cares program.

By the end of the morning Tuesday, 108 of the 195 meal packs had been picked up. Anna Nicholas, owner of the Learning Ladder where the food was distributed, said she thought the first distribution went pretty smoothly, although she had hoped more people who had signed up would have come by. Calls or letters to those people would be sent out to find out if they still plan to participate.

In addition to the money donations, the program could also still use volunteer labor at three different times. The food is picked up on Fridays, the food packs are put together on Mondays and the food is distributed on Tuesdays.

For more information on the Decatur Cares program, visit its website at DecaturCares.com.

And as I mentioned at the end of my column Sunday, keep reading the Messenger for more hunger-related stories, columns, photos and video through the summer for our upcoming “Feeding Wise” series.

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