One in four southeast Texas children are at-risk of hunger. This means they don’t have consistent access to enough nutritious food. Children need nourishment for success. Studies link healthy nutrition to better grades, improved attendance and a healthier community.
One of Houston Food Bank’s strategic goals is to provide hunger-relief programs. The food bank has many child hunger-relief programs available. These include Kids Cafe, Backpack Buddy and School Market.
Houston Food Bank developed the School Market program to improve older students’ access to nutritional foods. The program targets middle and high school students. This is a vulnerable population that can be difficult to serve as they outgrow programs like Kids Cafe and Backpack Buddy.
School Markets are on-site. Meaning they are set up at a campus for easy access and set distribution schedules.
A key feature of School Markets is that students staff them. Students receive training to perform the various jobs that support the market. These tasks include setting up product for distribution, restocking, and cleaning up the area afterward. This is a great opportunity for student volunteers to practice leadership skills.
Earlier this school year, MacArthur HS partnered with the Houston Food Bank to take part in the School Market Program. The campus operates through a mobile market that brings food to the school in a truck with a large refrigerated trailer.
It is a student-run program. Ricsi Yanes, Odalys Avellaneda, Conception Olvera Magallón and Breana Vargas Rosales comprise the MacArthur HS market crew. They assign tasks to 15-20 student volunteers. For instance, some student volunteers will take the customers’ information. Other students stock the pantry food items and help customers to their cars. Student volunteers from different organizations such as Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Future Health Professionals (formerly known as Health Occupations Students of America or HOSA) and Student Council (StuCo) are assisting with the project.
Each weekend the market is opened, approximately 100 individual families leave with bags of groceries. The first market day held at the campus fed 111 area families.
Food market days are scheduled each month until the end of the school year.
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