Helping kids who go hungry - FOX 13 News

Helping kids who go hungry

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DOVER (FOX 13) -

There are a lot of hungry mouths at Dover Elementary School. Nearly every one of its 900 students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

"We have hungry children. We know for some of our children, the food that they get here for breakfast and lunch is pretty much the bulk of their diet," Dover Elementary Principal Marie Caracciora said Wednesday.

The non-profit group KidsPACK wants to make sure the kids don't go hungry on weekends. They say Dover Elementary School is the hardest hit for childhood hunger in Hillsborough County.

"Starting this Friday, we'll be feeding 25 children per week," KidsPACK founder Randy Browning said Wednesday.

An assembly line of volunteers will now work weekly at the school to stock and seal nutrition packs for students. The snack packs will be delivered to classrooms each Friday.

"It is anonymous because it's delivered in a backpack, and the backpacks blend within. It's completely safe because we don't even know who the children are," Browning said.

KidsPACK picks out the snacks strategically, opting for no-fuss staples, in case students are on their own.

"It provides a weekend's worth of food for one child. Two breakfasts, lunches, suppers, and snacks in a very easy to prepare format to give the kids some nutrition for the weekend," Caracciora said.

The program originally launched two years ago. Since then, it's spread to feed 465 kids...fighting hunger pains in Polk, Osceola, and now, Hillsborough County.

"Hopefully we can bridge that gap between Friday and Monday, and these children can be nourished throughout the weekend and they can come to school on Monday to learn, instead of to be fed," Browning said.

KidsPACK is piloting at Dover Elementary. Organizers hope to reach more kids as the program expands in Hillsborough County. For more information about the program, visit www.kidspack.org.

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