NEW PORT RICHEY — Schools not only educate many Pasco youngsters, they also feed them regular meals.
But those students can go hungry on weekends and school vacation breaks, so the folks operating the nonprofit Pasco Pack-A-Sack 4 Kids program appealed for help from the Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano.
Fasano responded by posting food collection barrels in all four tax collector offices during July.
Visitors to the tax collector’s offices came through big time, Pack-A-Sack workers Jessica Smith and Arianna Pratt said Monday at the West Pasco Government Center.
For the first three weeks of July, people gave 178 items worth more than $91, Smith reported. The food program reaped 50 fruit cups, 48 packages of crackers, 40 juice boxes, 20 cookie packages and more.
Most of these donations will be bound for Gulfside Elementary, Smith said.
Generations Church supports the program at Gulfside Elementary and Paul R. Smith Middle School, spokeswoman Patti Templeton said. There are 32 schools participatingin a pack a sack program of some kind, Templeton added.
The leaders of Pack-A-Sack, which is part of faith-based charity One CommUNITY Now, realized some families are struggling with bills and making hard choices between food on the table or paying bills such as electricity.
“Food insecurity” is how the federal government describes the problem. About 36,000 students at Pasco schools were eligible for free and reduced-price meals this year. About 7,000 of them are chronically hungry, Pack-A-Sack officials emphasized in a brochure.
“There should not be a single child who goes to bed hungry each night,” Fasano has said.