Program striving to feed local kids

By Racey Burden | Published Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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Giving Back

GIVING BACK – Michael Ramirez of Grace Fellowship Church presents a check to Feeding Wise Kids board members Mike Simpson, Ron Barnes and Andrea Duwe. Feeding Wise Kids wants to provide food to hungry children. Messenger photo by Racey Burden

After a teacher was moved to tears talking about hungry students during a prayer meeting, a local church started an organization to feed children whose families can’t afford to buy food for every meal.

Feeding Wise Kids helped provide meals to students in Bridgeport schools this year, purchasing food-filled backpacks from Tarrant Area Food Bank to give to the kids on weekends. Now the program wants to expand, first to Chico schools, then to any other district in Wise County that might need assistance.

“A lot of children in Wise County only eat well during the week because of the school breakfast and school lunch programs,” Feeding Wise Kids President Ron Barnes said. “Many of these kids are in danger of going hungry on the weekend, so this is a weekend feeding program. The child picks up a backpack Friday and that’s food for one child for the weekend.”

After a prayer meeting at Barnes’ church, Pleasant View Baptist, during which a teacher talked about her students without enough to eat, Barnes met with other community members to start raising the $5 per week per child to buy the backpacks.

“It had been on her heart, seeing those kids come to school famished,” Barnes said. “That’s how we figured we should feed kids on weekends.”

Several other churches have pledged to cover the cost of so many children per week, and individuals have also donated to the cause. Feeding Wise Kids recently became a 501c3, meaning all donations are tax deductible. All money raised goes toward the backpacks. School counselors identify the children who need weekend meals and pass out the backpacks to them, ensuring they stay anonymous.

As the group plans to expand, they’d like to meet with churches and other community groups to discuss their goals. Feeding Wise Kids will have an open meeting 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 1, at the First United Methodist Church in Bridgeport where interested parties can talk to the board of directors.

“We’re not going to stop hunger in Wise County, but we’re going to do what we can,” Barnes said.

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