What is the Puncher Pack Program?
Puncher Packs are backpacks full of food provided to chronically hungry students from low-income households who are at risk of hunger over the weekends when free school meals are unavailable. Each Friday children will go home with a backpack filled with nutritious food and simple to prepare to accommodate a variety of home circumstances. The children will return the backpacks each Monday.
Discreetly provides nutritious, child-friendly, easy-to-prepare food to chronically hungry children in every day backpacks to take home over the weekends. The program for children will provide nutrition, ease their anxieties, reduce absenteeism, improves attention span, raise academic performance and increase self-esteem.
We believe in helping children and families regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, political affiliation, or beliefs. We train the volunteers in inclusiveness, nondiscrimination, and confidentiality.
Mason ISD has 63.8% identified as Economically Disadvantaged (on Free/Reduced Lunch) and the average in the United States is 62% Eco Disadvantaged. In the U.S. 1 in 6 students don’t have enough food. Approximately $3.00 feeds one child each weekend and $80 feeds a child on weekends for an entire school year.
Tim Scheffel, Pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church, is the President of the Ministerial Alliance and Pastor Tim Farenthold (at First United Methodist Church) is the Treasurer of the M.A. so money can be donated and given to either of them.
Vondell Jordan was the one that came up with the idea at the beginning of the year. We got a donation from Riata and the backpacks from Wal-mart.
We have seen the need mainly in Elementary; however, the project is for PK/Headstart-12th grades. Basically, we will fill up a backpack full of kid-friendly food for the student to take home Friday afternoon and return the empty backpack on Monday.
Even students and/or groups can assist with this! The families identified will of course remain anonymous. The backpacks are inconspicuous/indiscreet and other students will not know what’s in them. Across the United States, many backpack programs have been started and proven to be successful. Many of the programs are already copyrighted (such as Backpacks 4 Food, Food 4 Kids, Backpack Food Program, Food for Thought Backpack Program, etc) so we thought of "Puncher Packs."
As many of you may know, hungry students experience behavior problems, anxiety, depression, and chronic illness. We think we don’t have "these problems" in Mason, but we do.
The following have assisted so far:
Riata Club donated $250 toward the project (thanks to Julie Gamel)
Wal-Mart of Brady donated 12 backpacks (thanks to Stephanie Hernandez and Julie Gamel)
Cindy Powell and Jane Vargas have already done so much!
Ministerial Alliance has agreed to help take over the monetary part of the project and donated $500 to help get it started. The Mason County Food Bank will assist in this effort.
If you know of a child or family who may need this assistance, please let Jane Vargas at the elementary school know.