HIDDEN PROBLEM

More than half of the students in the Granbury Independent School District live in poor households, according to school officials. Many rely on free food from the school cafeterias.

Lake Granbury and the number of golfing communities draw the affluent families.

Hunger is not an issue.

But the Granbury area has sections that don’t sport $700,000 lakeside and golf course homes, manicured lawns and shiny Lexuses parked in circular driveways.

Food is not always plentiful.

More than half of the Granbury school district students live in economically disadvantaged households.

Child hunger is real here. According to feedingamerica.org, children in Hood County experienced 22% food insecurity in 2018.

“I would guarantee this number has increased in the last few years and especially since the (COVID-19) pandemic began last year,” GISD Director of Child Nutrition Amy Parker said.

Volunteers rallied to take hot meals to children’s homes during the COVID-19 school shutdown last year.

Teachers, perhaps more than anyone, witness the poverty that plagues pockets of the Granbury school district and Hood County.

Elementary school teacher Melissa Smith knows the clues from students with not enough to eat at home.

“We notice them scarfing down their breakfast or grabbing at their tummy,” she said. “We ask, ‘Did you eat supper?’ Sometimes they say yes, sometimes no. One student said, ‘We just had rolls. That’s all we had at our house.’”

Granbury school Superintendent Jeremy Glenn said, “We hear multiple stories that are heartbreaking.”

All students, however, have the chance to fill their tummies at school. Free breakfasts and lunches are offered to students who live in lower-income households.

There are more opportunities for meals. Sack lunches are sent home with kids for weekends. Also, coaches and athletes work to stock a food pantry at the high school athletic pavilion.

Meals will continue to be served during summer school, and students don’t have to be enrolled. Breakfasts and lunches will be available for pickup.

Also, it’s common for educators to reach in their pocket and give money to kids for food at school events, such as football games.

Smith noticed last year that a student’s lunch box was lacking food. She would bring a microwaveable macaroni meal and heat it for the child.

Smith knew of a parent one Christmas who was struggling financially. The family didn’t have enough to eat. Smith went to Brookshire’s Grocery and bought two-for-one sale items. She took the extra food to the appreciative parent who told the teacher Smith, “We don’t have anything.”

School cafeteria workers and many other Granbury educators help their students. “I’m not the only teacher that makes sure their kids are fed,” Smith said.

Sometimes the weather makes a difference. If rain floods a creek and buses or cars can’t cross, kids are stuck at home and can’t get their two meals at school.

“We know this community has generational poverty and families and kids that really rely on the educational system to give them a chance to break that cycle,” Glenn said.

The school receives donations and support from individuals and businesses, service clubs and other organizations.

“We are blessed to have community partners,” Glenn said. “No child should have to come to school hungry.”

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