DRIPPING SPRINGS, Texas (KXAN) - When kids started stealing food from the cafeteria, teachers and administrators at Walnut Springs Elementary knew it wasn't your typical theft.
So, they sprang into action and created a non-profit organization to raise money to buy food for the students who don't have enough to eat on weekends or over the summer. The program is called Tiger Totes, named for the school mascot and it is completely funded through donations.
One parent named Joey is a single dad raising his kids on his own, struggling to make ends meet. He's already on food stamps and his parents have given he and his kids a place to live.
How to help
But with only $800 coming in a month, no job, and putting himself through nursing school, he's strapped financially. He has three kids - two in Walnut Springs.
"I found out that they were both bringing home little extra packages of cereal they were getting from the school for snacks and it just kind of breaks your heart that they do that so they can have a snack. When I see my kids doing that, you know, it's hard," said Joey, who is being identified only by his first name to protect his children's privacy.
Julie Pryor, the principal at Walnut Springs Elementary added: "We found out that we had a couple of students who were taking food from the cafeteria at lunchtime in order to save it for the siblings who were home and not in school -- so they'd have something to eat for their own dinner."
All the money raised by Tiger Totes goes directly to buying food for those kids.
The student council members fill backpacks with food, and send them home with the kids who need it every week - including summertime. Counselor Melissa Fleming says grades have improved since the kids are being fed.
"You know if they're hungry, they're not going to do well in school. We've had their test scores, their grades improve by getting the nutrition they need."
"What really overwhelms me, though, is that we have such strong relationships with children at the school that they will come and tell me or the assistant principal or their teachers that they are having a hard time and they need help, " said Pryor.
Last year was the first official year of the program, and 65 kids were fed. This year, Tiger Totes has more than doubled. Even during the summer, backpacks are filled with food, and parents can pick them up. If they are unable to get to the school for pick up, volunteers will drive to the houses and personally deliver the necessary food.
Joey can't thank the parents and teachers enough. "All the kids look forward to this and all the parents are so grateful for what the community has done and it just makes it a real sense of family, I guess you could say."
And now, the program has expanded to include all five of schools in Dripping Springs. That's because parents and teachers say it doesn't matter which school the student attends. What matters is whether they have enough to eat - whether they are in school, or at home.
For more information and to make a donation to the Tiger Totes program, go to
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