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      30,000 Panhandle children are food insecure, study finds

      The High Plains Food Bank

      It's the new term that's being applied to at-risk kids who find themselves uncertain as to their next meal. Those children are referred to as being "food insecure."

      New numbers from the Map the Meal Gap study show that one in four children in the Panhandle are at risk of being food insecure. The study was conducted by Feeding America.

      While those number have dropped marginally in the last year, the numbers are still alarmingly high, officials said.

      The High Plains Food Bank works to curve those numbers by helping agencies feed children, even during the summer.

      Watching kids eat at the Opportunity School at 1525 N. Grand is a pretty common and welcome sight during the regualr week. Kids getting a healthy, balanced meal and it's something the Opportunity School is very proud to be able to offer to its students, according to Jill Goodrich, Director of the School.

      "Yes, Amarillo's a community where we should be able to take care of it (hunger) and there are agencies like ours that are helping take care of the need," said Goodrich. "Many of us depend on the (High Plains) food bank to help speak for the children who need that and have the resources they need and don't go home hungry."

      And how many are we talking about area wide. Enough to fill Kimbrough stadium 1.5 times or 30,000 children. Of the 125,538 children from birth to 18 years old in the Panhandle, the study finds that 30,510 are at risk.

      In Potter and Randall counties, 14,730 children are food insecure, the High Plains Food Bank said. In Hall County, 31.3 percent of children are at risk. Statewide, Texas comes in second for the most children living in food insecurity, the food bank said.

      "We have a huge summer feeding program and we have a feeding program Kids Cafe and that's 1,000 meals a day during the school year," said Broc Carter, Director of Communications at the High Plains Food Bank. "So we're working to create an environment where kids in the area don't know what hunger is."

      Keeping that number in check and trying to lower it is something Jill and others at the Opportunity School are combatting every day.

      "Just spend five minutes in the classroom and see what they need and they'll do well, and they'll rest well and pick up lessons --and people can help," Goodrich said.

      How can I help? Did you know that as little as $10 can help feed a child for an entire month? Donate to the High Plains Food Bank. Click here to donate.