With school lunches gone for summer, Minnie’s Food Pantry helps fill fridges

PLANO -- Ah, summer break.  Fun for kids, sure.  But it can be stressful for parents and guardians who rely on school lunch programs to feed those kids during the day.  To help fill the gap, Minnie's Food Pantry in Plano helped more than 800 families to fill their kitchens on Saturday with its annual Summer LaUNCH program.

"We will donate, today alone, almost 40,000 meals, at least," said pantry founder Dr. Cheryl Jackson.  "[We have] 150 volunteers, [working] over 600 hours just today.  We're really thankful for all of our community supporters."

The event was more party than pantry, featuring dance music and lots of smiles to lift the spirits of those who needed help.

"A lot of the people out in that line come with their heads down," said Jackson, "but if their head is down they'll see a red carpet.  So they look up and they say, 'This carpet is for me?'  And we're like, 'Yeah!'  If you're hungry, we believe you deserve the best.  You deserve to walk a red carpet.  You deserve to get treated with dignity and integrity.  And you deserve to take a healthy meal home for your and your families."

The meal kits are designed to last for about a month, and that's not all families took home.

"Our kids are getting books," added Jackson.  "Our families are reading together.  We're trying to do the whole overall concept of mind, body, and soul.  And it's working!"