Abigail Navidad is six years old. She wears her hair in two neat braids that bounce as she skips happily around the El Cenizo Community Center, while her mother patiently waits for her other children to finish their meal. Abigail is one of four sisters, ranging in ages from fourteen to four years old, who attend the Kid’s Café site in the rural community of El Cenizo, Texas.
The Navidad family has been receiving assistance from the South Texas Food Bank for seven years, both through the Kid’s Café program and the local food pantry in El Cenizo. Even though Abigail is one of the younger siblings in her family, everyone who knows her describes her as the “mother hen” of the group who is always looking out for her family.
“She is very nurturing to her sisters and she worries when they do not eat,” stated Delfina Moreno, the center director for El Cenizo. Abigail and her sisters attend the Kid’s Café daily, where they receive a hot meal after school. The Kid’s Café offers a safe place for children to go after school where they can eat, play and get help with their homework. “I like it because the food is good and it makes me feel better,” Abigail explained.
Abigail’s parents both work, but they still require the extra assistance to make ends meet. The family receives weekly food disbursements from the pantry located in the El Cenizo Community Center. Abigail is usually the one to remind her mother when groceries are being distributed at the site. “She gets so excited,” Luz Gonzalez, Abigail’s mother, relates as she hugs her youngest daughter close to her chest. “She comes in for the Kid’s Café and when it’s time to go home, she always tells me, ‘Don’t forget to pick up the food. Today they are giving this or that.’”
Abigail and her family are very appreciative of the services they receive from the food bank. “It’s a big help for our family,” Gonzalez stated. “We have four daughters. My husband works full time but I only work part time so I can watch them.” Gonzalez explained that they first heard about the programs when her eldest daughter was seven years old. “She used to come afterschool when she was in second grade. Now she is fourteen and she still comes with her sisters; that’s how much they love it here.”
The South Texas Food Bank provides nutritious meals to over 7,000 children just like Abigail and her sisters every month. With over eighty sites throughout the eight counties we service, we go beyond simple food distribution. We provide meals served with a side of hope for children and families in need.
Author: Camilla Sosa
Photo Courtesy of El Cenizo Community Center