Currently, the city of San Marcos, Texas, has a rising rate of 36 percent of its citizens living below the federal poverty line.
But who am I to care and why should I? I am a college student, constantly battling my days filled of tests, interning and the constant effort to maintain both my social and physical well-being.
But is that really all I have to complain about?
I sleep in a warm bed every night. I attend a respected university, with a graduation date right around the corner. I get to eat what I want, when I want, for better or for worse. I, like a lot of others, never stop and take the time out of my day to be thankful for what I have and the life I live.
After starting my internship with VoiceBox Media, my eyes were opened up to a new world.
Writing about Children on the Edge made me realize how deeply impacted people’s lives are, whether fleeing their home country or working to provide a better future for those that are seeking refuge. This project has brought a lot of attention to the humanitarian problems our society currently faces, issues I used to not give any attention to.
After diving in to my research, I realized the 36 percent of San Marcos was more than just a number or statistic – it was the amount of people that in some way could use my help. With the town’s economy focused on entertainment and shopping for the college students, many local families struggle to make ends meet. What’s worse, is to think that some of these families struggle to provide adequate nutrition for their kids.
To combat that issue, a handful of volunteers started the nonprofit organization called School Fuel.
Established in 2013, School Fuel was created after members from local churches visited a soup kitchen in Austin. Seeing the high demand for, and feeling concerned enough to do something about it, School Fuel set out to help the 85 percent of children in San Marcos eating on free or reduced lunch fees.
I found this organization to hit home for me. I am a man of food. There isn’t a day that goes by where I am not posting photos to my Snapchat or Instagram of my latest kitchen creation. The thought that there are kids out there struggling just to eat enough for the energy to make it through class, just doesn’t work for me.
So I decided to head out to one of the weekly sack packings done by School Fuel, and see how this organization works.
Located right off Interstate-35, School Fuel operates out of a two-building setup that is generously provided by the San Marcos School Independent District.
The first thing I noticed when I arrived to help – the amount of energy and positivity, on top of the large number of volunteers, constantly pouring in and out of the two buildings.
The first building, where an assembly line of compassionate people pass down sacks, and item-by-item place goods in a brown paper bag. From there, these bags are taken to school liaisons within San Marcos ISD. The second building, stocked pile high with food for future distribution.
With the help of School Fuel, students selected from the program are sent home every Friday with a sack lunch containing four meals and four snack. With these extra meals, students facing the possibility of missing a meal over the weekend have food to rely on, so that they can return to school Monday well fed and ready to learn.
“Children are selected on the basis of need, the district tells us what school,” said Nancy Smith, the secretary of School Fuel. “Test scores, absences, nurse visits and general health are all factors in how a child is chosen.”
Even with the amount of help, space and time School Fuel is delivering to the students in need, there still are those that the help isn’t reaching.
“We are only able to add students that need it, as we can provide it,” said Shelby Smith, School Fuels’ volunteer coordinator. “There are currently 3000 students in the district that are eligible, and we currently only have the funds for 485.”
Spending my time with the people at School Fuel not only opened my eyes to the great feeling that volunteering gives me, but also revealed to me how much help is needed within my own backyard.
So I leave whoever has read this far with a simple challenge:
Go give your time to someone who needs it more than you.
Help is asked for all around us, one only has to have the will power to answer.