Iowa family packs, donates weekend meals for hungry kids

One Iowa family is helping hungry kids make it through the weekend with packed meals they can pick up on Friday at school.

Screenshot from Google.com

An Iowa family is providing food for students on Fridays to ensure they have something to eat over the weekend.

Josh and J.J. Caston started Homeplate Iowa, a nonprofit, three years ago to feed students at Corse Elementary School in Burlington, Iowa, giving food-filled bags to 40 children a month to take home, The Hawk Eye reported. The program now has grown to four other local elementary schools - North Hill, Sunnyside, Grimes and West Burlington - feeding 272 kids twice a month.

Students receive six meals and two snacks in a buddy bag, which are about 6 pounds and just light enough for the kids to carry. Each costs about $3 to stock. The Castons take donations and look for specials at local grocery stores to fill them.

"It's raviolis, pastas, oatmeal, granola bars, stuff they can eat and fix on their own most of the time," J.J. Caston said. "Or they can combine it and make a family meal."

The Castons find students in need of food for the weekend with the help of school counselors. School officials noticed students didn't return to school Monday morning ready to learn, because they didn't have a meal over the weekend, Josh Caston said.

"There was more disciplinary issues at school on Monday, and the kids weren't focusing," he said. "You find that a lot of the kids haven't ate anything substantial over the weekend because there wasn't food in their house."

West Burlington Elementary counselor Tamara Levinson said students look forward to the bags and are eager to take them home.

"We try to do it discreetly for privacy, but the kids are excited about the buddy bags," Levinson said.

If there's a long break coming, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, the bags are packed with more food, Caston said.

Last year, Homeplate Iowa provided students with winter coats through the help of school counselors.

"Guidance counselors will call and say they have a child who showed up who doesn't have a coat, can you help," Caston said. "And last year, we did close to 300 coats."

The Castons have an 11-year-old daughter who attends West Burlington and have unsuccessfully tried to adopt a child. They say they take it as a sign they're supposed to have one child and feed many more.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.