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Friday, July 25, 2014

Groups feed kids who have little food over spring break

BY STAN FINGER
The Wichita Eagle

Most students think of spring break as a welcome interlude from homework and classes.

But for some, spring break means going hungry.

"It's more than we realize, I'm sure," said Suzanne Graham, president and CEO of Communities in Schools of Wichita/Sedgwick County, which is working with the Kansas Food Bank to launch the Break 4 Kids Food Drive.

The organizations plan to provide 100 families with a week of food.

Volunteers are packing the food in boxes at the food bank's warehouse on East Douglas early this week, and it will be distributed to students in 19 schools in four school districts around the metropolitan area: Wichita, Haysville, Derby and Valley Center. All four are on spring break next week.

Without the food, Graham said, students would not have breakfast or lunch during spring break.

The number of families needing the food is certainly higher than 100, she said, but, "It's a start."

Most of the food raised for the Break 4 Kids drive came from local churches, she said, and more than a dozen volunteers from Countryside Christian Church were loading boxes with food early Monday afternoon.

Donations and participation from Countryside were little more than a trickle until one young adult got up and talked a few weeks ago, said Phil Smith, the pastor in charge of missions and outreach at the church.

She hated spring break, she said, because it meant she and her sister would go hungry. There never seemed to be food in the house, so they would knock on doors around their neighborhood asking for something to eat.

After hearing that, members of the congregation — especially young people — became much more involved in the food drive, he said.

Food drives do well during the holidays, Graham said, but the need is just as great at other times of the year.

"We've got to keep this going year-round," Smith said.

That's a worthy goal, Graham said, and the next step is already being planned: a similar food drive set for October.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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