Nearly 25 percent of children in Central Texas — one in four — suffer from food insecurity. Unsure of where their next meal is coming from, many rely on free school breakfasts and lunches during the week. But when the final school bell rings late Friday afternoon, some go home knowing their stomach will likely be empty until Monday.
PEC Director of Regional Operations Jerold Terry and others at his church, City Chapel in South Austin, were determined to ensure these very kids had a place to get a meal when they weren’t in school. Together, they launched the Keep Kids Fed program in 2016.
“The needs of the South Austin community just blew our minds and tore us up,” Terry said. “It just made sense for us to get involved. We had to step up to the challenge as a church community to actively serve an important cause in this part of town.”
Keep Kids Fed serves Williams Elementary School and Bedichek Middle School in South Austin, where an astounding 80 percent of the students rely on school meals. The program has partnered with school officials to arrange free breakfasts and lunches for food-insecure children on weekends and holiday breaks. From box juices and milk to fruit cups and soups, this program runs off of monetary and item donations from their church community and others in the greater Austin area.
“What began as a summer of feeding seven children at one school has now expanded into more than 100 students being fed,” Terry said. “We developed a really cool relationship with our community, so I think word of mouth really helped us reach the children that could benefit from this program.”
In addition to providing children with meals on the weekends, Keep Kids Fed also hosts a toy drive during the holidays and collects backpacks filled with school supplies to distribute to children at the beginning of the school year. This past Christmas alone, Terry’s church gifted more than 550 gifts to local children.
Their main focus, however, remains feeding the hungry. This year, Keep Kids Fed is partnering with Central Texas Food Bank, where PEC volunteers prepared more than 8,900 meals in December, to extend their services to other Austin children and deliver meals right to their doorsteps.
“Just $6 can feed a child for a weekend,” Terry said. “When you’re blessed and you give back, you bless somebody else with your blessing. That’s how I try to live my life. It just takes one random act of kindness to make a positive change in our world.”
To learn how you can get involved with Keep Kids Fed, visit www.citychapelchurch.com.