KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The fight against hunger just got some powerful help.
Members of the Missouri National Guard are now working with Show-Me State schools, helping distribute food to hungry families.
On Thursday, members of a Missouri National Guard unit based in Perryville were ready to help at South Kansas City’s Hickman Mills School District.
They supplied families with donated food at a different kind of drive-thru, taking the place of meals usually eaten at school.
“This is our community, too,” Captain Michael Benz said. “We are Missourians first, and we’re Missouri National Guardsmen.”
Benz commands this detachment, which is one of many sent through an agreement with the Missouri Department of Education to assist school staffs at food pantries.
“The Missouri National Guard is committed to ensuring all students and children get meals from schools that they need,” Benz said.
The meals, which were donated by Loffredo Fresh Produce, contain enough to feed hungry kids 30 times.
“We’ve got a lot of families right now who have parents who are out of work,” said Grennan Sims with Hickman Mills School District.
Sims is in charge of feeding thousands of kids in the district. She said half of her staff isn’t able to work because of COVID-19 concerns.
But the lines at the food pantry demand some help.
“When we’re eating healthy, our immune system is boosted,” Sims said. “We all want to boost our immunity right now. That’s another reason we wanted to get fresh fruits and vegetables into our kids.”
The guard members have been busy. On Thursday, an estimated 175 registered families showed up at Ruskin High School for multi-meal boxes.
Benz said around 200 Missouri National Guard members are assigned to Show-Me-State schools, and people receiving these meals, including Juan Sammeron, said they’d be in trouble without them.
“It’s really helpful for people to receive food they don’t have … It’s really tough,” Sammeron said.
The Hickman Mills School District allows all of its students to eat at no cost.
“I know the need is out there,” Sims said. “We’re happy we can continue to serve our kids. We miss them.”
Sims said guard members will be on hand for Thursday food distribution until May 21, which was scheduled to be the last day of school.
The front lines are getting stronger thanks to these heroes in uniform.