Empty Bellies

By Representative Tan Parker

We all know how difficult it is to sit through a meeting when we are hungry. Our bellies grumble, our heads start to hurt, and we tend to focus on anything but the topic at hand. Now imagine what it must feel like to be a child sitting in class, who is not only hungry, but who perhaps has not eaten since his or her last meal at school.

The reality is that there are a significant number of children in Denton County who suffer from hunger and food insecurity. Unfortunately, many of these children are only able to eat a complete meal when at school, whether that be breakfast, lunch or both. When these children leave school for the weekend, some are not able to eat a meal again until they return to school the next Monday morning.  One appalling statistic notes that one in four Texas children struggle with hunger and poor nutrition, and it is often difficult to accept that this hardship is affecting children right here in our local schools.

In an effort to combat this prevalent issue in our community, many different local organizations and entities are working hard every day to ensure that Denton County children are receiving the nutrition they need to succeed in life.  One such organization that comes to mind is Communities In Schools of North Texas.

Communities In Schools of North Texas works closely with local food banks and community partners to provide snack packs and backpack meals to children suffering from hunger.  With support from the community, these children are provided with snacks during the week as well as backpacks full of nonperishable, kid-friendly food for them to take home for the weekend.

Teachers and school counselors will confirm that children who are hungry are not prepared to learn and that starving bellies lead to starving minds. Communities in Schools of North Texas understands that by alleviating a child’s hunger, they are better prepared to learn and succeed in school. You can make a difference as well by supporting the efforts of Communities In Schools of North Texas. Giving opportunities are available throughout the year and through special events, such as the Texas Star Gala coming up on May 31st.

For more information on how you can help equip and empower children to succeed in school and in life through the efforts of Communities In Schools of North Texas, you can email info@cisnt.org or visit www.cisnt.org.

Another great opportunity to support the efforts of ending hunger in our community is by taking part in the Mayor’s Day of Concern for the Hungry.  City of Denton Mayor Mark Burroughs is hosting the third annual Day of Concern for the Hungry with a food drive taking place between April 18-25.  Last year, over 9,000 pounds of food were collected during the drive, and this year we are hoping for even more! The drive is a collaboration between all sectors of our community including grocery stores, car dealerships, coffee shops, and hospitals, and all donations will be distributed to agencies in the community following the culmination of the drive.

To help with the efforts, my office will be collecting food to be donated to the drive.  To participate, you can simply organize a food drive through your work, parent group, church, or within your family, and my office will come by to pick it up.  To arrange a pick-up, please email info@tanparker.com

While there are many different avenues available for tackling childhood hunger, I believe that we are most effective when we as a local community work together to address this significant issue.  As we approach the summer months when even free meals provided by schools become scarce, let’s make a real difference in the lives of our children and end childhood hunger in Denton County.

As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives and I welcome your feedback on this and any other critical state issues.  If you would like to share a thought with me, please feel free to contact me by e-mail at info@tanparker.com