Spring break in San Marcos, Texas and around the U.S. is widely known as a week of partying, relaxing and enjoyment, but not everyone has this leisure.
It is estimated that 37.3 percent of the San Marcos population are currently living under the poverty line, which is more than double Texas’ average according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but there is a local organization that is trying to combat poverty to ensure that school children receive food.
School Fuel San Marcos is a feeding program for some students of the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District on weekends, who sometimes do not have anything to eat from their Friday school lunch to their Monday school breakfast.
The school district is in charge of picking the schools for the program, but the principles, teachers and parent liaisons are responsible for selecting the students who will be receiving food.
Seventy-three percent of SMCISD students are on free, or reduced lunches, according to SMCISD Student Nutrition Services.
Aurelia Newton, president of the Board for School Fuel San Marcos, said they give the students a sack of food to take home for the weekend, which consists of two meals a day for Saturday and Sunday and four snacks.
“Some of the students say that they share with the whole family and that the family sits down and pours the food in the bowl and everyone will get some,” said Newton. “Some of the students say that they eat it all by themselves and some say that they put it on their bed and save it and eat a little bit this day and a little bit that day.”
During spring break there is an extra project in place to ensure that the students will have food during their week away from school.
SMCISD students officially begin their spring break vacations on Friday March 13, so students will take home their regular sack on Wednesday, March 11 containing two meals a day for Saturday and Sunday and four snacks. And on Thursday March 12, they’ll receive another sack which will contain an 18-ounce jar of peanut butter, a sleeve of Ritz crackers and a big Hershey’s bar.
Newton says that her purpose with School Fuel San Marcos is to not necessarily break the cycle of poverty with the families, but to provide the children with food, so they can function properly and keep going to school, so that they are able to stay on level.
“Then they can realize that maybe they can break out of that cycle and by the time they get to twelfth grade they will have finished and graduate and get a job, or go to ACC, or go to college,” said Newton. “All students need to have is the potential no matter what their background is to do whatever they can and want and have the ability to do.”
The content of what is placed in the bags are based on nutrition, weight, easy access and cost. Newton says that the Student Nutrition Organization at Texas State University played an instrumental role when School Fuel San Marcos began.
“They helped us when we began our program a year and a half ago to put together the food that we send home, which is the most nutrition that they could help us find and get as far as protein and the least amount of sugar and the least amount of salt,” said Newton. “We want to make sure they eat what we send, so we have to kind of give and take each way.”
The program is currently serving 414 students at Mendez, De Zavala and Bowie Elementary. It costs approximately $215 to support a student with food every weekend that there is a week of school.
School for Fuel is currently trying to expand their program to include students from the new Pre-k facility because they want to ensure they receive the proper nutrients since they are still in their physical and mental growing stages.