Kids’ Meals Open House attended by: Sr. Kim Nguyen (left), John Day-Chief Operations & Program Officer, and Cristina Contreras. Right: Sr. Kim Nguyen dropped off decorated brown lunch bags designed by Sisters: Kim Nguyen, Symphonie, Juana, and Mary Linh. Bottom Left: John Day – Chief Operations & Program Officer shared with Sr. Kim Nguyen the functions of operations atKids’ Meals. Bottom Right: John Day – Chief Operations & Program Officer shared the floor plans and store front of the new building.

Sr. Kim Xuan Thi Nguyen and Cristina Contreras were invited to the Kids’ Meals open house inMay to learn about their operations and their plans for future growth. Kids’ Meals is a first responder to children ages 5 and under facing debilitating hunger due to extreme poverty. Kids Meals was founded in 2006 and has given more than 10.3 million meals to food-insecure children. In 2023, theyare projected to deliver 2.1 million brown bag lunches, 20% of their total deliveries from its inception!This significant growth is a true testament to their leadership and vision. They make deliveries to 46 zip codes in Harris County and Montgomery County and provide referrals to 50 wrap-around partnersdepending on each family’s need. All of this is done with the goal of helping families break the povertycycle. The goal is to make Houston the first city to end childhood hunger.

Inflation and the cost of food have skyrocketed for everyone, and Kids’ Meals has not been exempt from those effects. Their ability to adapt and make new partners throughout the Houston area hashelped them keep costs at a minimum. A few years ago, Kids’ Meals would obtain 80% of their food from the Houston Food Bank (HFB) and purchase the other 20%. Now the HFB cannot keep up withHouston’s demand; Kids’ Meals can only obtain around 20% of the food from them. They have kept costs low with newfound partnerships with Hormel, Pepperidge Farm, Target, and Jake’s Finer Foods. However, they still must purchase over 70% of the food. Before, their monthly budget was $15,000; now, it is up to $32,000. During the summer, the budget will jump to $55,000 since siblings of those kids under 5 years of age will also qualify to receive a brown bag.

With so much demand for their services, they greatly need to expand. Fortunately, there is a concreteplan in the works. They have acquired a lot near Hollister Rd. and will build their new facilities from scratch. They will be expanding not only to be able to provide more brown bags and to have plenty ofspace for volunteers but also to include a space for classes and wrap-around services. The future islooking bright for Kids’ Meals with a strong capital campaign.

During our visit, Sr. Kim and I had the opportunity to assemble one of the brown bags. We decorated itand then filled it with a tasty meal consisting of a sandwich, juice, in-house-made trail mix, and a driedfruit snack. Getting volunteers to decorate the brown bags with a nice message or happy drawing is theattention to detail they try to provide the children receiving the brown bag. They are always in need ofdecorated bags. If you are interested in decorating brown bags and “making them special,” please reachout to me, and I can provide you with further information.

Left to Right: Bread from their partnership with Pepperidge Farm. Freezer area that stores milk and other goods to be used during the week. Bags packed with brown bags ready for delivery for the next day. Lobby area of Kids’ Meals

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