Maudesta Moore said she had spent most of her summer watching the shows her grandbabies wanted to watch when she decided to turn on the morning news and saw that the East Texas Food Bank would be kicking off its annual Summer Backpack Program.

Moore said she was planning to take them to Bergfeld Park anyway, so she decided to make a day of it and skip a trip to McDonald’s after. With three granddaughters and one great-granddaughter in tow, she headed to Bergfeld Park to let the children play while she learned more about the program.

After talking to volunteers with the East Texas Food Bank, the city of Tyler and the Junior League of Tyler, Moore said she thought the program would be a big help for families in the area.

“I can remember back in the day when I used to bring my kids (to similar programs), and it had a big impact,” she said.

Over the course of the summer, the organizations will hand out more than 3,500 backpacks of nutritious meals to families at 15 locations in Smith County.

Holly Thedford, who was representing the Junior League at the event, said the organization has helped support the program since 2015.

The league’s $15,000 donation this year brings its total support of the annual program to over $100,000.

Thedford said the program aligns with the Junior League’s mission to help the community.

“A lot of members have children and know that this program has a deep impact on the community,” she said. “A lot of the kids here have working parents. It definitely helps with cost.”

She also said it helps parents set aside more family time when school is out and they’re having to prepare more meals daily.

Groups that want to get involved can volunteer at the distribution sites or as a team to help package the meals or donate.

Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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