One in five children in North Texas have food insecurities, but Lovepacs is working to change that.
Hillery and Mike Cross are team leads for Lovepacs Lewisville and are determined to make sure no child in the area goes hungry.
“We started in Lewisville, but we now serve campuses in Flower Mound and Highland Village, as well,” Hillery says. “We serve all schools PK to 12 that feed into Lewisville, Flower Mound and Marcus High School, as well as the Lewisville Learning Center and Purnell Support Center.”
Lovepacs was established to provide meals to students who otherwise would be hungry during school holidays and breaks. The mission of Lovepacs is to “feed children in need as an expression of love.” The vision of the organization is for communities to “experience God’s love by serving together to provide food for children in need.”
The Crosses began the Lewisville chapter of Lovepacs five years ago. “The community response and the school needs quickly grew over several years until we reached our current point with Lovepacs offered to all our area schools,” Hillery says.
The Lovepacs organization serves 13 communities in North Texas and has more than 250 volunteers. As of 2020, Lovepacs had served more than 2.5 million meals in more than 170 schools in those communities.
“LISD has a school holiday every month. While most of those are three-day weekends, Thanksgiving and spring break are nine days, and Christmas is 18 days. The Lovepacs goal is to provide a breakfast, lunch and snack for each day the student is out of school,” Hillery says.
“Food insecurity is a very real problem in our community – even before the pandemic began. The counselors on campus identify which students need assistance. We coordinate with the community to collect and pack the food. And then the volunteers deliver the food to campus so the students can take it home,” Hillery says. “In addition to providing needed food for the students, our community often makes encouraging notes that we can include in the Lovepacs so that students know that they have been seen and are important. We want our local students to know they matter, that their community cares and that they are loved.”
Though Hillery says community involvement has changed due to the COVID pandemic, Lovepacs’ need for assistance remains strong.
“Our biggest needs are always donations and volunteers to pack the food,” she says. “For Thanksgiving, Christmas and spring break we also offer our adopt-a-box. We have gotten creative with ways the community can engage this year, especially for those needing service hours. Anyone can sign up to decorate boxes, make uplifting notes to include in the Lovepacs or donate food, and we will sign for service hours for these projects, as well. This way we can offer opportunities for the community that is more socially distanced as well as for people who can come help with our packs. We are keeping our packs small this year to help maintain social distancing.”
Hillery says that it’s important for the community to realize that needs exist all year long – not just around the holidays.
“People often think to donate food at Thanksgiving and then food and toys at Christmas, but LISD has holidays all through the school year,” she says. “Almost as soon as the students return in January they are out for three days for MLK. Then there is a three-day weekend in February followed by Spring Break in March. The same food insecurity needs are there all year long.”
Hillery says Lovepacs currently is busy collecting inventory and packing boxes to go out during Spring Break.
“Our biggest event will be our Spring Break Adopt-A-Box,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity for individuals, families, groups or businesses. You pick up the box from us, then you do the shopping and packing. You can decorate the box and include an uplifting note. Then return it to us knowing that you have helped ensure a student will have a breakfast, lunch and snack each day of the spring break.”
The Crosses say they are grateful that the community has embraced Lovepacs’ mission to help children in need. It indeed takes a village.
“Our community has always been amazing in the way they support Lovepacs and our local students throughout the school year,” she says. “We live in a generous community, and we are thankful for the individuals, groups and businesses that take time to support Lovepacs throughout the whole school year.”
Community members can donate food staples to Lovepacs. Visit lovepacs.org/give-food/ to see a list of essential meal, snack and pantry staples needed. The site also offers drop-off locations and Amazon Wish Lists.
Visit lovepacs.org/give-money/ to choose a community or donate to the organization’s general fund.
Contact Lewisville Lovepacs, email@example.com, to see how you can volunteer your time. Right now the organization is seeking individuals to fill a Spring Break Adopt-A-Box.