MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — Every weekend, a few hundred schoolchildren in the Hatboro-Horsham district are taking home something to tide them over. A team of volunteers is making sure they don’t go hungry.
Eyewitness News visited a packed room where everyone operated with factory precision, filling bins with single-serving foods and snacks, packing them into brown paper bags, and arranging them for transport.
“We’re a big team!” said DJ Shultz.
It’s a big project to fill a big need. About 30% of the Hatboro-Horsham student population gets free and reduced price meals. But that’s only on school days.
“We learned that some of our kids were actually saving parts of their free and reduced meal program just to have something to eat over the weekend, and when we heard that, we couldn’t not do something,” Shultz said.
In January 2018, Shultz, Erin McCuen Pease and Patsy Meck formed H.A.T. Packs. That’s H.A.T. for Helping Around Town.
“This is what we do,” Pease said. “We collect food. People donate it. They bring it to our house. They send it to us through Amazon.”
H.A.T. Packs started with 16 kids at one school. The team started packing two breakfasts and two lunches for each one every week. Now H.A.T. Packs serves all five Hatboro-Horsham District schools, a total of 231 children.
Church of the Advent provides storage and room to pack. Meck said the community dove in to help.
“We had one Cub Scout group that packed,” Meck said, “and one Cub Scout, every bag he packed, he kissed it before he put it in the bin.”
Once they’re done, volunteers load up the bags, and transport them to schools, where on Fridays, they’re given to students.
“We love them just as our own children,” Meck said. “We just don’t know their names and faces.”
The team says it is especially in need of lunch items, like pre-cooked rice packs and single servings of mac and cheese. See their Amazon wish list here.