Thousands receive Thanksgiving meals from IDEA

IDEA Frontier Academy host a Thanksgiving Meal Bundle drive-thru event to distribute 21 meals for every child under 18-years-old in the Brownsville community Monday morning. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Thousands of meals were distributed to the community Monday morning at the different IDEA campuses throughout the Rio Grande Valley as part of their “Thanksgiving Meal Bundle” where thousands of children received 21 meals each that included bread, milk, orange juice and vegetables.

“We are giving out a bundle of meals for Thanksgiving Week for all of our families in the community. We are talking about more than 20 meals per child and it’s an event that we are doing to benefit our community and our kiddos as well,” Rodrigo Martinez, student enrollment coordinator at IDEA Frontier, said.

“It’s important because one of the things is that we need to be thankful for what we have; this is our job, this is our mission, to get our kids to and through college and of course to help our community. This is a difficult time throughout the world and this is a bit of what we are doing to help our community.”

Hundreds of cars started to line up at 8 a.m. at the gates of IDEA Frontier to receive the meal bundle for their children. Teachers, cafeteria workers and drivers worked together to distribute the food to the cars. The event was open to all Brownsville residents.

“This is something that all of our campuses are doing throughout the Valley, not only in Brownsville. We are doing it in San Benito, Harlingen, La Feria, Mission, Palmview, Weslaco and like I said this is free, this is for all of our community,” Rodriguez said. “This is a small step of what we are doing from all of us just to be grateful and a big thank you to all of you who are coming and taking food home for the holidays.”

Silvia Sarmiento, cafeteria manager, said there are many heart-touching stories in Brownsville, especially IDEA students. She said there are people who are in great need in the community.

“I received a call two days ago from a lady who told me she hadn’t been able to register to receive the meal bundle because she did not see the announcement on time but she was crying and told me she really needed it. She has six children and she is jobless,” Sarmiento said.

“So we made an exception with her and I just saw her receiving her food. There’s plenty of stories like this one, especially here in the lower RGV where there’s a lot of low-income families and a lot of the parents don’t have the means to feed their children, but that’s why we are here, to help them.”

Sarmiento added that a similar program for Christmas is under consideration if students are not back in school yet. She said for some of the children the meals they receive at school are the only ones they get.

“During these difficult times, during the pandemic, a lot of parents lost their jobs and a lot of them have not been able to find one again,” she said. “So for many of these children the food that we give them daily is the only one served at their table.”