Feeding homeless children, one weekend at a time | NevadaAppeal.com

Feeding homeless children, one weekend at a time

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Ruth Nunez, left, and Shari Stock, fill bags for the Food For Thought program at Rebecca Rund's home on Friday.

There’s an old adage for those who volunteer, and it goes something like this: “There’s no such thing as one-time volunteering.”

Rebecca Rund recalls her “one-time” volunteering experience last fall.

She recalls it while standing in front of her pearl-hued SUV that’s running in her driveway, stuffed with bags of food ready to distribute to Carson students in need. Pen in hand, she is checking off a list of volunteers who spent Friday afternoon at her South Carson home donating and sorting the food.

She recalls her experience, checking her watch every 30 seconds as her “Food for Thought” program will soon deliver more than 160 pounds of food to 30 children who attend Fritsch Elementary and need to eat over the weekend.

While working frenetically to meet her deadline, she speaks only of where the program will go in the future.

“Carson City has about 400 homeless children who go home for the weekend and may not get to eat,” she said. “Our goal? Our goal is to feed all of them.”

The modest beginning of the program started as the holiday season approached this time last year.

Rund, a mother of four, decided she would volunteer to adopt a family at Fritsch Elementary over the holidays.

“I went into the school counselor to ask about it,” she said. “It was a Friday. While I was there, a couple kids stopped by looking for food for the weekend. All that was left was a box of pasta.

“I asked about why they needed food, and I was told that many kids don’t really get a nutritious meal between Friday lunch and Monday morning. So, I thought ‘a-ha.'”

Rund went to the school board seeking approval to start a modest program which would send underprivileged students home with a backpack of food for the weekend.

Five students participated in the first week, word spread, and to date the effort has served more than 3,000 pounds of food.

“What can I say about a program like this,” said Superintendent Mary Pierczynski. “They’re doing a terrific job. They’re expanding – this program has been so incredibly helpful.

“The kindness of these people and their thoughtfulness and caring for the kids is very moving. We can’t say enough how we appreciate that.”

Barbara Howe, a registered dietitian, who is wrapping up her first year as a trustee of the Carson City School Board, said she’s “proud to have seen the (Food for Thought) program” from its inception to rapid growth and expansion in the short time she’s served the district.

“The beauty of ‘Food for Thought,’ is it doesn’t require the family to seek assistance, it’s offered to the child,” Howe said. “Some of these parents might not have the foresight to go get food, but the fourth grader is together enough to know to go get that backpack of food for the weekend.”

As a dietitian, the link between nutrition and achievement is “critical,” Howe said.

“You can ask any school nurse in any district – when you have a program where kids have food all weekend, you get less kids coming into the school nurses’ office, you have kids doing better in class,” she said. “You can’t learn if your body’s not nourished.”

Pierczynski said “by spring last year, we were 40 percent of our students on free- and reduced-rate lunches. There’s a need, yes.”

Rund said she and her volunteers are continuing to get the word out, and as the effort becomes city-wide, the inspiration will always “be personal.”

“I’ve moved to Carson in 1983 and graduated from Carson high, when I heard there were kids out there with nothing to eat in our schools, our group got together and said, ‘no – not on our watch.'”

• Andrew Pridgen can be reached at apridgen@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

You can help

What: Food for Thought

What: A volunteer group that discretely provides food for Carson City’s hungry and homeless students every Friday

What they need: Money, and nutritious foods that are nonperishable especially soups, canned or freeze-dried meats or nonrefrigerated, individual serving cartons of milk

How to get involved: Call Rebecca Rund at 883-1011 or visit foodforthought@prodigy.net