Weekend Meals Help Kids Succeed in School

My brother is in the news again. Last year he was one of seven people honored with an Unsung Hero award given by David LarsonCommunities in Schools, an organization working "to help young people successfully learn, stay in school, and prepare for life."

He told the local reporter, "I don't think they must have not had many nominees that year," and that he preferred to see his rewards inside the classroom.

In February, The Wichita Eagle ran a story about a program designed to make sure students have enough to eat over the weekend to better prepare them to stay engaged in learning.

People outside the schools have a hard time believing these stories, Larson said. But the Kansas Food Bank has found at least 3,510 such kids in Kansas schools -- nearly 1,100 of them in Wichita -- and is adding hundreds more kids to its backpack program every year. Larson has seen it all. He's talked to the kids' parents.

"Parents break down and cry here. They tell stories: 'I had a job -- I lost my job. I have these kids -- the kids need help. We have nowhere to turn -- we go whole weekends without food.' "

He says keeping kids fed keeps them in school. Some of what he's seen is hard to take, including "watching big, tough-guy fathers melt into tears when I tell them that we've found a way to send food home on weekends."

I'm very proud to be related to him.