St. Andrew Methodist Church Volunteers Want to Ensure No Child Goes Hungry

Sunday school class helped deliver more than 62,000 meals last year to students facing hunger in Plano ISD.

James Thomas, with Plano ISD, and Duke Dupre, with St. Andrew Methodist Church, pose with Major Gift Officer Zahra Perez following a donation from the church toward Food 4 Kids.

James Thomas, with Plano ISD, and Duke Dupre, with St. Andrew Methodist Church, pose with NTFB Major Gift Officer Zahra Perez following a donation from the church toward Food 4 Kids.

If not for volunteers at St. Andrew Methodist Church, Plano ISD might never have participated in the North Texas Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids Program.

“There was no question that Plano ISD had the need,” says James Thomas, student services coordinator for Plano ISD. “We just didn’t have the resources or the capacity to go off campus and pick up food.”

It was a Plano ISD teacher and St. Andrew member who mentioned to a Sunday school class back in 2007 that some students didn’t have access to food when they were at home over the weekend. Members of the class knew immediately that they wanted to do what they could to help, and they worked with the North Texas Food Bank to arrange for pickup of Food 4 Kids boxes that they could deliver to Plano ISD.

Food 4 Kids is an NTFB program that works with educators to identify chronically hungry children and to provide them with backpacks full of nutritious, non-perishable food to take home each Friday afternoon. In Fiscal Year 2023, the program operated in over 300 schools and served up to 11,000 children each week.

When the program started in Plano ISD, church volunteers drove to the NTFB’s former home in Dallas and picked up food to deliver to the school district. That changed when the NTFB relocated in 2018 to its Perot Family Campus, and as the number of food insecure children in the district increased.

Now, Plano ISD uses buses to pick up food and take it to a storage unit. More than 40 St. Andrew members are scheduled each week from a roster of 80 committed volunteers to pick up boxes at that location and deliver them to between 25 and 30 of Plano ISD’s 47 campuses. During the previous school year, St. Andrew drivers delivered 6,250 boxes containing 62,500 meals for children to take home with them over the weekend.

“We enjoy working on this program and are thrilled to be a part of something that ensures that children do not go hungry on the weekends!” says Duke Dupre, a St. Andrew volunteer who schedules each week’s drivers and coordinates deliveries to the schools. He adds, “Food 4 Kids is one way that St. Andrew members can be the hands and feet of Jesus and, for just a few hours of their time each week, we can make a direct impact on the lives of many.”

Along with volunteering with Food 4 Kids, St. Andrew in 2009 opened Seven Loaves Food Pantry to provide neighbors facing hunger with access to food. It’s now a program of The Storehouse at Collin County, which provides access to food to 5,200 families a month as well as other important wraparound services to families in Collin, Dallas and Denton counties.

St. Andrew Senior Teaching Pastor Dr. Scott Engle, who leads the Sunday School class that supports Food 4 Kids, says they’ve learned through their work that food is a critical starting point for families in need on their paths to transformation.

“If you and your children are hungry, and your physical needs are not met, you cannot move forward in life, whether seeking education, work, or in some cases, even a spiritual connection,” he says. “Once those needs are met, pathways for change and transformation emerge.”

PISD Student Services Coordinator James Thomas added that often people don’t realize that there are so many families facing hunger in Collin County, and they’re grateful to the volunteers at St. Andrew for recognizing the need and stepping up to meet it.

“They’re amazing volunteers, and we’re extremely grateful for those angels,” James says. “Some of the boxes weigh as much as they do, and they load them whether it’s raining or snowing or 150 degrees.”