Houston – This month, 35 University of Houston student athletes across six sports worked together to pack more than 150 decorative lunch bags to support Houston Kids Meals aimed at ending childhood hunger in Bayou City.
Houston’s student-athletes, through the transitional “CORE 1101” first-year/second-year college course, packed fruit, protein, one snack, and water or apple juice were then distributed throughout Harris County. The organization offers free healthy meals year-round to the doorsteps of Houston’s hungriest preschoolers.
“My experience packing kids’ meals in Houston has been fantastic,” said Ali Mak, a beginner multi-event athlete at Houston Track and Field. “It was a great opportunity to be able to help those in need especially from the Houston community. It really showed me that even the simplest work can be very helpful to other people around me and I really appreciate that I got the chance to help out with the Houston kids’ meals.”
Crystal Petersondirector of Student Athletic Development in Houston, helped organize the effort and spoke about the importance of giving back to the community.
“The best way to find yourself is by serving others,” Peterson said. “Since COVID-19, our students have been denied access to each other and to the community around them. It’s not because they don’t want to, but rather they don’t know where to start. I wanted to find a way to bridge those gaps and this is where Kids Meal Houston comes in. Kids Meal Houston gives me the opportunity to create a program where students not only serve the community, but learn and connect with it, all while showing off a creativity.”
According to Kids Meals, there are more than 50,000 preschoolers, or 1 in 4 preschoolers, who may not know where their next meal comes from each day in Houston while Harris County has the highest rate of Food insecurity for children in the nation’s densely populated areas.
“I had a lot of fun packing the kids’ bags,” said Kenneth Burgess, a freshman shooter at Houston Track and Field. “It made me feel like I made a difference in our community and put a smile on my face. It’s important to give back to the community because you don’t know how hard it is for someone, and if you can help, then even a little bit is worth it.”
CORE 1101 in Houston provides first-year students with opportunities to develop the skills, behaviors, and attitudes demonstrated by successful scholars, including learning and study strategies, communication, time management, career and major exploration, as well as connections to campus culture and resources. .
“Packaging meals on behalf of Houston’s Kids Meals means a lot to me and the rest of the student athletes in my class,” said Houston goalkeeper Haley Woodward. “I give credit to our coach, Crystal Peterson, to work tirelessly to allow us to help our community. In our class, we learned that Harris County ranks first in the state with the highest proportion of food-insecure children in the most populous counties. Knowing that the province in which our university is located suffers from this damage that has befallen many of us in the classroom. We got together and decorated the bags with inspiring illustrations/quotes which we later filled with food to serve up for Kids Meals in Houston to distribute. Knowing that these meals can be the only thing a child can eat that day is amazing. We have been blessed with this opportunity to give back and I hope others realize how a small thing can help and that others will continue to do the same.”
About Kids Meals Houston
Since 2006, Kids Meals has been preparing and delivering healthy, free meals straight to the homes of hungry kids. Since the beginning, we have provided more than 10.3 million free meals to food-insecure children in 46 ZIP codes in Harris County and Montgomery County. Kids Meals is the first responder for 5-year-olds who face debilitating hunger due to extreme poverty.
Kids’ Meals Houston’s mission is to end childhood hunger by providing free healthy meals to the doorstep of the hungriest preschoolers in Greater Houston and by collaborating to provide their families with resources to help end the cycle of poverty.
Kids Meals is the only program of its kind in the country. What started as two delivery vans has grown into a fleet of 13 trucks that not only cater to food, but connect with more than 50 service partners helping families break the cycle of poverty. But it all starts with growing healthier kids, which is why we’re laser focused on feeding kids 5 and under who can’t get free school meals.
Harris County is home to more than 50,000 preschoolers who are food insecure. Our goal is to feed 26,000 children a day by 2031. We believe Houston can be the first city to end child hunger.
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