A nine-day Thanksgiving break may provide a respite from the rigors of schoolwork for some students. But for many others, it means nine days without the nutritional meals that are served at their schools.
The thought of youngsters not eating during a holiday break prompted a group of families to start Lovepacs in 2011 with the goal of filling in the gaps for these children over the holidays.
“Lovepacs provides breakfast, lunch and a snack for each day a student is off campus,” said Hillery Cross, one of the co-leaders of Lovepacs Lewisville. “We are trying to replace what students would have received if they are on campus.”
The organization’s desire, according to its website, “is that Lovepacs can come alongside the school counselors so that we can resource them, take care of physical needs for the kids, and allow them to do what they do best-without worrying about the basic survival of their students.”
The Lewisville Lovepacs chapter serves the Lewisville ISD, which encompasses 127 square-miles and enrolls more than 50,000 students from 13 municipalities including Copper Canyon, Double Oak, Flower Mound and Highland Village.
“When students are striving to learn and their stomachs are growling, they’re not focusing on their education – they’re focusing on getting something to eat,” said Central Elementary School’s Nellie Apodaca, who is the contact person for the nonprofit Community in Schools, which partners with Lovepacs. “This provides food and security when school is not in session.”
Lovepacs also steps up to help families that may have had an unexpected medical bill or an exorbitant car repair bill, for instance.
“COVID really highlighted that. Families were doing just fine and then all of a sudden their businesses were shut down,” Cross explained.
Typical food packages include canned fruit and vegetables, canned protein items such as tuna and beans, ramen, macaroni and cheese, granola bars, popcorn, cereal and peanut butter and jelly.
“The quantities change depending on whether it’s a three-day weekend or a nine-day holiday,” Cross said. “We’re heading into Thanksgiving and Christmas when we hand out one box per student for Thanksgiving and two boxes for Christmas.”
The organization encourages families to “adopt a Lovepac,” in which families provide their own box, shop for food, decorate the box and put a note inside,” Cross said.
The organization also has numerous community partners, Cross said, including area Rotary Clubs, the National Charity League, the Women of Flower Mound and high school groups, such as school dance teams.
Lovepacs officials say they need more help to continue to serve 6,500 students for the 2021-2022 school year. You can collect items with your family, neighborhood, workplace, or church. The organization plans multiple packing events and invites volunteers to help sort, count, shelve and pack inventory.
“We reach out to a lot of groups and schedule when it’s convenient for them,” Cross said. “It’s amazing how many service groups we have in the area. And we also have a lot of families that just want to bring their kids to come help pack the boxes.”