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Amarillo non-profit partners with local farmers, community members to feed at-risk kids

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Two local farming families from Amarillo and a non-profit organization partnered together to provide weekend snack packs for kids at risk for hunger across the Texas Panhandle and San Antonio a few years ago, and now feeds over 7000 students per week.

As the High Plains Journal reports, Aww Shucks Corn Harvest is a partnership between Amarillo-based Snack Pack 4 Kids and local farming families, the Cleavingers and Gruhlkeys.

The idea came about when Snack Pack 4 Kids Director Dyron Howell and his friend David Cleavinger were brainstorming ways to serve their friends and neighbors.While the Cleavinger’s farm was a natural fit to Snack Pak’s mission of feeding kids, the logistics of getting a crop from the field directly into the kids' hands posed a challenge.

But Cleavinger and Howell came up with a plan – Cleavinger would sow the seed and Howell would bring the harvesters.

When the duo first began discussing their first corn harvest, they had no idea what it would eventually grow into.

As the corn grew, volunteers started showing up. In the first year, farmer Bill Gruhlkey was one of the volunteers, but he decided to go one step further and contribute a plot of his own land. So in the second year, the area to harvest corn doubled.

Fast forward to this year and over two weekends, nearly 500 volunteers harvested over 15 tons of sweet corn from Cleavinger and Gruhlkey's land that was delivered to 11 communities in and around Amarillo represented by six Snack Pak 4 Kids supported schools in Amarillo.

Howell calls the program an education and community program.

“If kids are hungry, they’re not thinking about their studies,” he said. “We help fill the need of hunger so that students can focus on their education and excel in the classroom and have the capability to give back to their local communities.”

This year, approximately 2,400 Amarillo families were impacted by the community-wide act of generosity.