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Saturday, June 12, 2021

LovePacs provides food for Denton ISD families in need

Article Originally Published by Maria Lawson on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Maria Lawson on North Texas Daily

When the final bell rings to let children out for winter break, most kids run out of their school in excitement, eager to have two weeks of relaxation and family time. However, for other families, this is a time packed with anxiety about where their next meals will come from.

LovePacs is a nonprofit in Denton which identified these fears that families are faced with over holiday breaks and works to provide them with food. It currently serves more than 400 children in Denton Independent School District.

“We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to feed food insecure children in Denton ISD,” Jenny McGee, LovePacs community coordinator and Denton resident, said. “We deliver meals for every school break throughout the school year, because we have found that those times are the times when food insecure children struggle the most.”

LovePacs was founded in The Colony in 2011, when families saw a need to support their peers, and the Denton chapter started in 2018. The Denton chapter recently opened an independent location to house more resources for families.

“We were previously sharing a location with the Little Elm branch, which was really nice for us to get started, and we got a sizable grant,” Nicol Fuller, LovePacs community coordinator and Denton resident, said. “We found [our new] location, and it used to be The Break Room, a place where you can break stuff, and they closed due to COVID[-19], but we were able to make it into a pantry and we really love it.”

LovePacs depends on the Denton community to provide donations and support to keep the nonprofit running. Approximately 60 percent of donations come in food donations, and the rest comes from monetary donations, McGee said.

“Everywhere in the community we ask for help for specific items that we pack,” Becca Burris, LovePacs community coordinator and Denton resident, said. “We get small and large donations from community members — it’s a lot of little things here and there that we put together.”

Denton schools direct LovePacs to the families in need, and the students receive one box of food during Thanksgiving break and two boxes during winter break. During the holiday season, the volunteers are shopping and packing daily to ensure every student is accommodated.

“We have an impact on the families who receive the food,” McGee said. “We’ve gotten excellent feedback from our school counselors about how appreciative they are, how much they look forward to it and how difficult it would be if they did not receive it.”

LovePacs is also able to have an impact on those who choose to volunteer with the nonprofit. McGee said she especially loves it because her kids can volunteer with her, showing them the importance of service from a young age.

“On the reverse side, I think we have an impact on the people who come to volunteer,” McGee said. “Our experience has been that if we can get them in the door to come try a pack, they’re hooked and they want to come back and they want to help more and they want to donate more. They see it as a worthy cause, and our whole mission is to engage the community to feed kids in need, so it’s both sides. We want this to truly be the Denton community taking care of the Denton ISD children.”

Burris said volunteering with LovePacs is important to her because of her experiences with food insecurity throughout her lifetime.

“We were food insecure growing up, and I was food insecure as an adult when my kids were very little,” Burris said. “It’s something that is important to me, [and] I’m in a position where I can help other people. I don’t think it should be something you’re ashamed of or anything that has a stigma.”

LovePacs works to make the process to obtain food simple to provide for anyone who needs help.

“I love the way LovePacs helps — there’s no judgement. There’s no paperwork [and] there [are] no hoops you have to jump through. You just have to ask for help and we give it,” Burris said.

The most rewarding part of being involved with LovePacs is the positive feedback from the students’ counselors, Fuller said. School counselors have reported the children cheer when they see the LovePacs packages arrive for distribution.

Going forward, LovePacs aims to grow by serving more schools in Denton ISD and expanding its volunteer network, while keeping up the services they have for the schools it currently serves.

“We want to grow sustainably, in a way that we never disappoint any school by suddenly not having the resources to give them what they ask for,” McGee said.

Courtesy LovePacs

Source: North Texas Daily

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