One person can make a difference and start a movement for the better. Melissa Burcham, cafeteria manager at Travis Middle School, saw a need within the district cafeteria walls that was a catalyst for a weekend meal program.
“It started with just one of our students who was not eating lunch,” she says. “He did not have the money, and he was about 20 pounds underweight. After talking with him for awhile, we learned he did not have a lot of food at home and we made the decision to help him and his family.”
Irving ISD has an award-winning food service program that provides students with free breakfast and snacks along with a dinner program for students who stay at school after hours for extra-curricular or academic purposes. Starting in this school year, students in elementary and middle schools are now also receiving free lunch.
But many of the district’s students face food insecurity on a daily basis—weekends, long holidays, breaks.
“After your eyes are open to such need, I do not think you can close them again,” says Burcham.
So she, along with other cafeteria staff, approached the Irving Schools Foundation (ISF) to see what resources they could provide for students in need of a meal over the weekend.
In true ISF form, staff and the board of directors were 100 percent on board to assist Ms. Burcham and the students of Irving ISD. ISF opened Food for Thought markets at two middle schools — Bowie and Travis. The markets are fully stocked with non-perishable food items that are then placed in bags every week for counselors to pick up on Friday morning.
Organizers say they hope to eventually have a Food for Thought market in every school in the district. They’re also encouraging members of the community to volunteer or to donate food. “What we’ve learned is it’s giving our students hope, and it’s letting them know that we’ve got your back, we’re going to make sure you’re fed. We’re going to make sure you’re taken care of,” says Crystal Scanio, President/CEO of Irving Schools Foundation.
Ms. Burcham’s plea has led to a movement of volunteers throughout the community organizing food drives and assembling meal bags to make sure that her students and students throughout the district are not going hungry every weekend.
“Yes, we give hungry kids food for weekends, holidays and school breaks. What we truly give these kids is hope and hope is the most precious thing one person can give another,” Burcham states.
How can you help?
Conduct a food drive at your business/organization. Top items include oatmeal, cereal, breakfast bars, tuna/chicken salad kits, macaroni and cheese, canned pastas and soup, nuts, microwave meals and snacks.
This is a great opportunity for team-building and community support.
Make a Contribution
Donate and help us eliminate hunger among students.
For more information, contact the Irving Schools Foundation at 972-600-5018 or firstname.lastname@example.org.