The children trickled into their elementary school’s library in south Kansas City.
They had just completed a fire drill, and a few kids were antsy to get to recess. But most of them just wanted to color and tell how they feel when they get packs of food to take home for the weekend.
“I sing a happy song in my head,” said Robin, 7, a student in the Center School District. “I just sing whatever song I want because I’m happy. And I’m a star.”
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To show how she feels when she gets her BackSnack, Robin drew a smiling girl with plump red lips, green hair and purple dimples. And a big star with a round mouth, ready to sing.
Dozens of children at the district’s four elementary schools receive the food packs, which provide two breakfasts, two other meals and snacks to tide a child over from Friday night to Monday morning. Teachers, nurses, counselors and even principals help decide which children might go without if they didn’t get the BackSnack packs.
“Anyone can identify kids who are hungry,” said Kelly Wachel, the communications director for the Center School District. “And we all work together to serve the kids in the most need.”
At this school, the kids who lined up for the packs on a recent Friday are called the D-Team — D for “dynamic.”
For 8-year-old Kegan, being on the team means “I can help my family.”
School officials know that children sometimes eat food from their packs over several days. Other times, they use most of the food for one big dinner for their families.
“It helps when there’s not a lot of food in the house and we’re low on cash,” said Garry, 10. “It puts food in your stomach.”
Garry and other children wrote thank-you notes for the church volunteers who deliver the food provided by the Harvesters food bank. One 11-year-old wrote that the food makes her feel grateful — and “happy and cool.”
“Here’s why: Because they really don’t have to give us free food,” she wrote. “… They fill me with joy.”
Robin says she tries to show how much she appreciates her BackSnack. Without it, she and her siblings wouldn’t have enough, she said.
“I just keep telling her, ‘Thank you,’” Robin said of the person who gives her the pack of food each Friday. “The girl says my name, and then I say, ‘Thank you.’”
Feed KC kids
This holiday season, The Star is again partnering with Harvesters on a virtual food drive to raise money for the area’s hungriest children.
All money goes to Harvesters’ BackSnack program, which provides low-income children with packs of food. A $25 donation provides a child BackSnacks for a month; $250 provides BackSnacks for a year.
If you’d like to give, go to FeedingKCKids.HarvestersVFD.org. You can donate in a loved one’s name, with reader dedications published in The Star’s Christmas edition. The deadline for dedications is 5 p.m. Dec. 21.