Snack Pak 4 Kids: a positive impact on the Texas Panhandle

Nov. 15, 2022

Our brain processes thousands of thoughts per day. Usually, those thoughts pertain to work and family. Things that tie to our everyday lives. For many people, the thought that never crosses their mind is “Will I get to eat today.”

According to Feeding America, 34 million people in the United States of America are suffering from food insecurity and 9 million of them are children. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that struck our country back

in 2020, the numbers have increased significantly.

Children who experience hunger are impacted mentally and physically, which is detrimental to their ability to learn at school. They suffer from fatigue, have trouble staying focused and record poor attendance.

Dyron and Kelly Howell have created hope for the ones who live in the Texas Panhandle.

Corrin Davis

People in the Amarillo, Texas community felt the couple’s impact starting in 2010 when they collected snack bags for 10 students who attended Will Rogers Elementary School. The Howell’s began asking questions and it made people realize that the problem they thought was taken care of needed new resources. Their background in working with children who face food insecurities started the conversation of getting those kids help, which built the foundation of Snack Pak 4 Kids.

“Started with 10 kids and then now we have evolved to building a bine cooperative. 92 cities in Texas use our cooperative, and we freely share our model with people all over the Texas Panhandle and all over the United States now,” founder of Snack Pak 4 Kids, Dyron Howell said.

The Howell’s were able to give perspective to what it means to serve kids in these conditions.
“Feeding is a program. Tools are things that open kids’ minds and ability to focus, ability to learn, and that was what we were trying to do,” Dyron said.

Not only did The Snack Pak 4 Kids founder open eyes, but he has given a voice to the voiceless. Dyron lets his students make decisions on what kind of food is being put in the snack bags. He conducts surveys and taste tests either at schools or at his own table to provide them with the snacks they want.

“So we may think it’s awesome [food items] and it’s the coolest thing, but if they don’t eat it or it’s something that’s not valuable to them, then we’ve wasted our donors’ money and we’ve really not listened to those we serve,” Dyron said.

The non-profit purchases every food product that comes through its doors on its own dime. Just this year, they will spend $2 million on food for children who live in the Texas Panhandle to ensure they get the best quality meals when they’re not at school. Snack Pak 4 Kids stands for giving their students “Dignity and Respect” by serving brand named food items.

“If our kids are our future, how we serve them tells them what we think,” Dyron said. “Well with them being our future, if they see brands that they recognize, but sometimes seem untouchable, that’s powerful.”

Corrin Davis

The organization rotates its nutritional menu weekly to provide variety. The student feedback helps recipients receive some of their favorite snacks with a balance of protein, fruits, and vegetables.

Every other Tuesday night, Snack Pak 4 Kids welcomes volunteers to its facility to pack bags that are delivered to schools the next morning. On Oct. 25, 2022, Snack Pak 4 Kids hosted 130 volunteers who sacked 4,000 bags in the span of 45 minutes.

“The 4,000 [snack bags] I think puts into perspective that the situation in our community is real,” Dyron said.

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  • One of many signs placed in the lobby of Snack Pak 4 kids in Amarillo, Texas on Oct. 25, 2022. This stands on display in front of multiple shelves of food . “Everything we [Snack Pak 4 Kids] give our kids, give our seniors, any of our partners is all brand new and it’s all brand name,” Dyron Howell said.

  • Snack bags placed in the lobby of Snack Pak 4 Kids in Amarillo, Texas on Oct. 25, 2022. The plastic bags are what hold the food items that are distributed. On this day, 4,000 bags were packed and delivered to students the following morning.

  • A shelf of food sitting in the lobby of Snack Pak 4 Kids in Amarillo, Texas Oct. 25, 2022. These are some of the brand name food products that Snack Pak 4 Kids provides. There are a variety of items such as soup, beans, ravioli, and protein drinks. “We have a contract with Kellogg’s. We have a contract with Gatorade. We have a contract with General Mills, Smuckers, Go Go Squeeze,” Dyron Howell said.

  • A shelf of food sitting in between a few others in the lobby of Snack Pak 4 Kids in Amarillo, Texas Oct. 25, 2022. These are some of the brand name food products Snack Pak 4 Kids provides. There are a variety of items such as green beans, tuna, peanut butter, and Gatorade. “Gatorade is the official beverage for Snack Pak 4 Kids,” Dyron Howell said.

  • A line of food items placed along a table in the Snack Pak 4 Kids warehouse in Amarillo, Texas on Oct. 25, 2022. Volunteers assemble around the boxes of food and work together to fill snack bags, which are placed in bins that are later delivered to schools.

  • A group of people sacking bags in the warehouse at Snack Pak 4 Kids on Oct. 25, 2022. Every other Tuesday Snack Pak 4 Kids opens their doors for volunteers to come fill bags with food items that will be distributed to students. “Our team has worked together to make sure we value our volunteers time,” Dyron Howell said.

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The holiday season is growing near and while many children are wondering what Christmas presents they will receive, others are terrified they won’t see food until they return to school.

“They’ve had food Monday through Friday at breakfast and lunch every day at school. And so all of a sudden they’re out for three weeks at Christmas,” Dyron said. “Okay, that’s 15 days that there is 30 meals they’ve got to figure out.”

Snack Pak 4 Kids sends students three bags over the holiday break and offers drive-through locations for parents to grab food for their children to sustain during that time.

Take a look at the number of food pantries stationed across the United States and how often they appear in the Google search bar.