Alice ISD social workers receive grant for food backpack program

Melissa Cantu Trevino
Alice Echo News Journal

A good educational experience for children is not always about the things that occur inside the four walls of their classroom or on school grounds. A good educational experience starts with a full stomach.

Families who struggle with finances and the decision of putting food on the table or paying the bills is nothing new. However, with a worldwide pandemic families are struggling more with these choices.

Knowing that this is an important for students at Alice Independent School District, some of the staff at the district wanted to help out to families in need.

Moises Maldonado, a social worker with Alice ISD, and other social workers jumped at the opportunity in December of 2020 to apply for a grant that would help them partner with State Farm and the Coastal Bend Food Bank.

Social workers with Alice ISD received a grant from State Farm that would provide 900 students with backpacks filled with nutritional food for the weekend.  Pictured (LtoR) are: Fabbiola Garcia, Virginia Sanchez, Moises Maldonado, Nadia Moreno and Lee Annette Ramos. Not pictured was Angel Espinoza.

“We were informed of the opportunity for the State Farm Teacher Assist grant that would assist teachers and staff to support students during COVID,” Maldonado said. “After speaking with students from the district, we decided that students and their families would benefit more if they received supplemental food assistance.”

The State Farm Teacher Assist program grants would help 40 teachers across Texas boost their efforts. Each of their schools would receive $2,500 to implement their innovative ideas - a total of $100,000 to Texas classrooms. Teachers across the state submitted 200 submissions for the program, demonstrating the need in the state for support. Out of the 200 submissions, 40 were selected.

“As a company, we have a long history of working with teachers, educators, and students across the country. We are heartened by the immense response received from teachers sharing their solutions to overcoming challenges,” said Annette Martinez, State Farm Senior Vice President. “Congratulations to the winners. We are proud to support you and help you reach your goals!”

Maldonado's submitted the required information and recently the district was notified that they would be a recipient of the grant.

Alice social workers created “food backpacks” to send home with students who have experienced food challenges caused by the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has presented many challenges to our student population,” Maldonado said. “With this grant, AISD would have the ability to purchase 984 food backpacks, which is 3,444 pounds of non-perishable food, to distribute to students in need.”

Maldonado said that they will be distributing the food backpacks around March and hopefully they can provide the backpacks in the summer months and even into the following school year.

Students, from elementary to high school, will receive a backpack with food every Friday and will return them the following Monday. Students who are virtual will have backpacks delivered.

Several students have been selected to receive the backpacks and arrangements are underway at Alice ISD to allow students and parents to request this assistance online, Maldonado said.

Two teachers in West Oso ISD also received grants that will focus on mental health.