New Day Arlington works to provide students with food security


Vanessa Johnson

A red wagon contains food donations intended for distribution to Arlington students in need.

Vanessa Johnson, Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas – New Day Arlington is providing food stability for students throughout the Arlington Independent School District every week.

What started as a mission project in 2004 quickly grew into an organization that operated weekly. New Day Arlington, also known as New Day, began in 2005 as part of an effort to confront children’s hunger outside of school. Then in 2012, the organization gained its nonprofit status.

“We provide nourishment so students can come back to school, ready for school,” New Day President Jack Boger said.

Boger said he joined the organization in 2015, after his pastor suggested that he become involved. With his financial experience and knowledge about information technology, he was elected to the board of directors. Boger along with the other members partner with school counselors in the school district. The counselors identify students who are in low-income families who need help with obtaining food. After those students are selected, the counselors then report the level of need to New Day. The organization then supplies the students with a food bag to enjoy over the weekend during the calendar school year.

“Our purpose is to feed hungry kids,” board secretary Earlene Pike said.

Pike said she has volunteered with New Day for six years and has held the title of secretary for three years. She also packs the bags and delivers them to her designated schools. She volunteers at Westminster Presbyterian Church, one of the four church sites used for storage and as workspace for the volunteers. The churches volunteer their locations to aid in the process of packing the bags. New Day also partners with Grace Presbyterian Church, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church and St. John the Apostle United Methodist Church.

“It is unfortunate that we have to do this,” Boger said. “It is sad that we have food insecure people in the United States and in our communities.”

The organization delivers more than 2,000 food bags a week to approximately 50 schools in the Arlington area. The list of schools includes elementary, junior high and high school. The food bag is meant to supplement the student’s diet through the weekend. Boger said the organization works with a nutritionist to plan a menu that accommodates students between the ages of 4 and 17 years old. The real debate was over the type of food to supply. The basic requirements were food that had carbohydrates, protein and that would sate their appetite. The products are all shelf stable and include but are not limited to juices boxes, tuna salad kits, cereal, microwavable pasta, fruit cups and cheese crackers. The menu also depends on the time of the year. During the winter months oatmeal is added as a warm meal. The high school students also receive a pack of basic hygiene items during the winter.

“The growth was scary, but not only because of COVID,” Pike said.

For 15 years, New Day has provided for students, but its success has not been an easy journey. The organization is at its peak with output. A major growth came when the coronavirus caused an increase in unemployment. The request for student food bags doubled. Government funding also increased during the pandemic, and organizations like New Day received a little extra help. Now it is experiencing a decrease in monetary donations due to the state of the economy and an increase in food prices.

“I’m honestly a little worried about New Day,” volunteer Nikki Thompson said.

Thompson said she has volunteered with the organization for more than two years, and she mostly helps with packing the bags. While she has faith in the organization, she said she is concerned that current funding might not be enough to meet the demand. Even though this might be a problem for the operation, the team is using all its resources to continue providing for the students. There are 16 members on the board of directors, and all contribute ways to bring in donations.

The individual churches each hold a food drive twice a year. Westminster Presbyterian Church is currently asking for food donations. Donations should be shelf stable and easily accessible with little effort to prepare the food. The church is located at 1330 S. Fielder Road. Westminster’s food drive will continue until the end of March, but donations are accepted at any time during the year. All the church distribution sites will accept donations at any time during the year.

“It is a good program,” Pike said. “It is a program that needs to continue. It is a program that helps kids.”