How hunger leads to less learning in local schools and how Food for Families helps

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 6:00 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - It’s hard to see hunger.

Yet in local students, hunger can look like a headache. It can look like falling asleep in class. It can look like bad behavior during the school day.

All of these are reasons why A&M Consolidated High School in College Station opened Texas’s second school pantry almost 10 years ago, leading the way in fighting student hunger.

“We open the cabinets like you see here and they shop, basically,” said Jody Gougler, the Consol teacher who primarily operates the school’s food pantry.

Soon after the pantry opened, administrators realized that a client-choice model was right for their students.

Gougler says the pantry serves, on average, 30 families a month. She emphasizes that it serves “families,” not individual Consol students alone.

“It’s sort of a holistic approach,” Gougler said.

On a larger scale, the Brazos Valley Food Bank takes a holistic approach to student hunger, too.

“I think hunger is a bigger problem than we recognize,” said Shannon Avila, BVFB’s programs director.

BVFB provides most of the food that fills pantries like Consol’s, and the other 12 school pantries in the Brazos Valley.

“School pantry works so that each pantry can order the items that they need, based on what items from donation they might have taken in themselves and what the population looks like that they’re serving,” Avila said.

In contract, food provided through BVFB’s backpack program is more uniform. Every Friday, BVFB sends home a bag full of weekend meals with about 1,700 Brazos Valley students.

“Food is only nutritious if you put it in your mouth, so we’re really looking for food that’s both healthy for children, but also something that children will eat,” said Avila. “We search for those specific items and purchase those specific items so we can pack all the bags the same.”

It is a thoughtful approach to hunger that school pantry administrators like Gougler say they couldn’t function without.

“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Brazos Valley Food Bank,” Gougler said.

To support local school pantries and all of the Brazos Valley Food Bank’s programs, you are invited to participate in the KBTX Food for Families Food Drive on Wednesday, Dec. 1. See the full lineup here.

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