Williams/Ledger student works to feed students on holiday break
Special to Leader-Press
Copperas Cove Elementary students facing the threat of hunger are able to qualify for free and reduced cost meals as a result of a partnership between CCISD, Texas Department of Agriculture and the U. S. Department of Agriculture. But, what happens over the holiday breaks and on weekends when students are not at school and able to receive meals? First grader Jackson Gibbs came up with a solution at his school, Williams/Ledger Elementary.
Gibbs, the reigning Junior Mister Five Hills, selected combatting student hunger as his platform of service during his yearlong reign. In early September, he hosted the 2nd Annual Lil’ Dawg and Lil’ Lady Dawg Homecoming Dance with all proceeds being used to create a weekend backpack program at his school. By the end of October, the program began serving students through Communities in Schools that vetted the students based on income. Parents received permission slips from campus CIS representative Starelette Williams to opt into the program.
“Currently, the Weekend Backpack Program is serving 37 students weekly. Each weekend, they receive two items for breakfast, two items for lunch, two items for dinner and snack with juice if available,” Williams said.
The junior homecoming dance, with the support of a Walmart Foundation Grant, cleared more than $2,000 to start the weekend backpack program at Williams/Ledger which is CCISD’s second largest elementary.
"It feels amazing knowing that lots of kids are able to eat because of the weekend backpack program," Gibbs said. "I think that the program is going great. You can't concentrate and learn in class if you're hungry or worried about not having food to eat."
Williams said one challenge in getting the program started was choosing the types of food that elementary students could eat that are nutritious and required little to no use of the stove.
“The Weekend Backpack Program helps students learn independence by knowing how to prepare the food items themselves,” Williams said. “The students who are participating in the program are excited about checking their backpacks for it.”
Gibbs along with other students pack the bags each Friday and place them in the students’ lockers during their last class. When the bell rings at the end of the day, students have the bags to take home and attention is not drawn to their economic status and the need for food.
"Some of my friends know that I started the weekend backpack program at Williams/Ledger. I want everyone to see that it doesn't matter how young or shy you are. If you care, just do something," Gibbs said. "I hope that every person who gets his food backpack can feel the love and pay the kindness forward to others someday."