LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - There are hundreds of children in Lufkin who only eat when they're at school and once the weekend arrives sometimes they don't see their next meal again until Monday morning. A Lufkin woman and the non-profit organization she runs will be helping to feed 500 students in need every weekend.
Hundreds of bags filled with food will be picked up this week from the Christian Information and Service Center and delivered to children at different schools in Lufkin.
"Kids were going home on Friday and not eating until Monday morning breakfast at school. They were coming to school sick, stomach growling, and no snacks like the other kids," said CISC Director Linda Smelley.
The back pack buddy program started eight years ago and is bigger than ever this year thanks to generous donors.
"We are getting so many deals from the East Texas Food Bank so we can buy food for the kids so much cheaper," Smelley said. "For example, one of the big food companies has a deal of little chicken nuggets and kids love nuggets. And we got them for pennies."
CISC now has more room to store everything.
"The warehouse is the best thing that ever happened to us," Smelley said.
Pete Netardus works everyday in the new warehouse helping CISC fight childhood hunger.
"It makes you feel like you're doing something good for somebody especially kids," Netardus said.
The Lufkin Independent School District said children that are chosen for this program are kept confidential."
"They have to sign a disclaimer and parents won't, and it breaks my heart because the kids aren't eating right. It's just sad," Smelley said.
Linda Smelley grew up in poverty and knows first hand how these kids feel when they have no food to eat.
"Going to school other kids would trade apples for cookies and we never had that, and it's just a good feeling to see kids having what other kids have," Smelley said.
Certain situations have pushed Smelley to help more children in East Texas. Currently, 500 children are fed each weekend with snacks, breakfast, lunch and dinner meals.
"One day one little boy said his mother was taking his back pack and selling it for drugs and I said hide it under your bed; and he said I don't have a bed. We sleep somewhere different every night," Smelley said.