North Texas Kids Won’t Go Hungry This Spring Break Thanks to Lovepacs

The NTFB Partner Agency distributes boxes of food to kids facing hunger each holiday break.

When she can, Autumn Chavez likes to add a “fun cereal” to each Lovepacs box before it’s sealed shut and delivered to a school.

Because along with ensuring children have access to food over school holidays, Autumn and the volunteer team behind Lovepacs want to make sure each student feels special.

“A lot of these kids get so excited and it’s like a gift,” says Autumn, executive director of Lovepacs, a North Texas Food Bank Partner Agency. “That’s why I like to give something other than Cornflakes or Cheerios.”

It’s also why volunteers, including some young children, spend time decorating boxes before they’re delivered and why the nonprofit provides snack bags for teachers and counselors to hand out to students who aren’t able to bring a snack to class.

“As a former teacher, I know how important full bellies are for students to focus, participate in classroom activities and have fun at recess,” Autumn says. “The snacks we provide allow those students who need something extra during the school day to have it.”

Lovepacs first started in 2011 when a group of volunteers learned from a school in The Colony that some kids go hungry over holiday breaks. They came together and provided food for around 45 children to take home during that first Thanksgiving weekend. Now, more than 10 years later, the nonprofit distributes around 8,500 boxes of food each holiday break to more than 200 campuses throughout North Texas.

They anticipate serving around 9,000 students over the next few weeks during spring break, which Autumn said is the equivalent of providing nearly $300,000 worth of food.

“Hunger is in every school, it is in every neighborhood — it’s not just children who are on the free and reduced lunch program,” she says, explaining that part of their mission is to also raise awareness of food insecurity. “There are families with medical issues, or divorce or loss of a job and they need that support.”

In addition to operating in The Colony, Lovepacs now serves Lewisville, Little Elm, Plano, Denton, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Prosper/Celina/Gunter, part of South Austin and Aubrey, with boxes being packed at multiple pantry locations. Aside from Autumn, who is a part-time employee, the whole organization is run by volunteers.

In Little Elm, volunteers not only pack Lovepacs boxes for distribution at schools, they also run a client choice-style pantry, known as the Neighborhood Market, and they host a monthly mobile distribution event.

“We wanted to serve our community a little deeper,” says Kim Groff, one of two volunteer leaders for the pantry. “We’ve never publicly advertised it, and we serve 100 families a week at our market. We’re a safe place for them.”

In addition to food from the North Texas Food Bank, the Little Elm pantry receives donations from retail partners, like HelloFresh and Walmart, as well as from individuals.

Autumn says across the organization, monetary and food donations have been down this year despite the demand for Lovepacs boxes increasing across North Texas.

Regardless of circumstance, Kim says Lovepacs has never turned down a request. Whether a school counselor says they have a dozen students needing a box of food to take home over spring break or 100 students, Lovepacs delivers.

A longtime volunteer herself, Kim says they’re grateful for those who give their time to make the organization run. Once you get involved, she says, it’s tough not to continue coming back.

“It’s such a great way to serve your community because you know when you do something it goes right to your kids’ school,” she says.

Learn how you can get involved 그리고 support Lovepacs here.