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If not for 'KIND,' some Montgomery County children would not eat on the weekends

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WJLA) - Without these bags of food, some students at Kemp Mill Elementary School might not eat this weekend.

Jeremy Lichtenstein, founder of Kids in Need Distributors (KIND). (Courtesy Photo)

Each Friday, 150 of the school's 500 students get a free bag of food to take home. The bag usually contains seven items, including some protein, juice and snacks.

The items are all things a child could easily prepare themselves, if their parents are working.

It's easy to see how valuable these bags of food are to the children that receive them.

"I've heard things like, 'All I had [this weekend] was a bag of chips," Kemp Mills parent community coordinator Oscar Buitrago told ABC7. "It really provides a sense of stability, a sense of comfort, knowing they can come to their school and get support in that way."

The food is provided by Kids In Need Distributors, or "KIND" for short.

Jeremy Lichtenstein started the nonprofit in 2012.

"Thirty-three percent of our kids in Montgomery County are on a free or reduced-priced meal plan - which equivalates to over 50,000 kids," Lichtenstein said.

He said, hearing that number is what inspired him to start KIND.

"I just felt like this is so sad, the numbers are so huge. "I just felt like I could try to start making a difference."

Every six weeks, volunteers deliver enough food to feed 900 students at 15 Montgomery County elementary schools. Then, teachers pass the food out to the students enrolled in the program.

Jasmine Evans, a counselor at Georgian Forest Elementary School, said, "I have a student and he always asks me, 'Ms. Evans, what time am I going to get my food today? Are we getting it Friday?' He knows every Friday it's coming, but he asks me every single week."

Evans said, while the need might be surprising in one of the wealthiest counties in the country, it's very real.

"Quite honestly, we will have some students come back [to school on Monday] and say, 'we didn't eat this weekend,'" she said. "And if they're not getting the nutrition they need at home on the weekends, they're not able to come into the school building Monday morning and be able to learn."

Representatives say, every cent donated to KIND goes straight to food for the program's students - and volunteers say, delivering that food to the kids is a feeling like no other.

"To see smiles on kids' faces - it inspires you to want to do more to help them," KIND volunteer George Nash told ABC7.

Lichtenstein said knowing KIND is making a difference for so many local children is all the payment he needs for running the organization.

"It's a labor of love," he said. "I'd rather do this than anything. There's nothing better."

For more information or to find out how you can help KIND, visit them online.

 

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