Hungry children get help and give help

The way Shane sees it, some kids don’t always have enough food.

Maybe they’ve eaten everything in the house and their mom and dad aren’t home yet, the 11-year-old Kansas Citian says. It could be that no one has gone to the store in a while. Maybe some parents can’t afford all the food their family needs.

“The prices keep going up,” he says. “Things are really expensive at the stores.”

Shane is sitting in a basement room at his Kansas City public school with Stephanie, another fifth-grader. Both take home packs of food each Friday to help them get through the weekend. On this day, they have come in to talk about what the food, provided by a Leawood church, means to them each week.

“It helps my parents so they don’t have to go shopping every day,” says Stephanie, also 11. “Sometimes my brother asks me for some of my food.”

Adds Shane: “They put something in there for every holiday. Sometimes they put cookies in there. Chocolate chip.”

Ninety-seven percent of the kids at their school qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. Staffers say many of their families are homeless. Others have two working parents in the home, but they still don’t make enough to pay all the bills and provide plenty of food.

This year, about 300 of their school’s 500 students get packs of food each Friday to tide them over the weekend. Church of the Resurrection in Leawood provides the packs of food to this school and five others each week.

The church wanted to show kids that they also can give to people who need help. So this fall, the students who get backpacks at their school, including Shane and Stephanie, went to Church of the Resurrection and helped fill backpacks for students at a Johnson County school.

Each kid brought at least one canned good to help another family.

“You should have seen how proud they were when they went one by one and put their can on the shelf,” said Mary Tostenson, who co-founded the Backpacks for Hunger ministry with a friend five years ago.

Both Stephanie and Shane took ravioli.

“It teaches me other people need help, too,” said Shane, who has received a weekly pack of food, either from Church of the Resurrection or Harvesters, since he was in kindergarten. “I felt really, really good.”

A few weeks ago, Stephanie went to the grocery store with her mom and dad. As they left, the fifth-grader saw a man and a little boy standing outside.

“They looked hungry,” she said.

Stephanie had her dad stop the cart. She pulled a box of snack cakes from one of their bags and handed it to the man.

The two thanked the little girl.

“The man told me that God would thank me,” she said.