CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Kim Hoover has long known there are students at Carthage Junior High School who aren't getting enough to eat at home. Hoover, who teachers family and consumer science at the junior high, has occasionally had students quietly ask if they can take home extra portions of the dishes they prepared in her cooking classes.
The problem of hungry students is not unique to the Carthage School District. But school educators and administrators across the country have stepped in to help. In the Joplin area, for example, many school districts have implemented backpack programs; food is sent home with students on Fridays to help ensure they have something to eat during the weekend.
Though many of the elementary schools in Carthage have backpack programs, the problem for Hoover was that the junior high school did not. So Hoover, with the help of the school district's administration, began searching for a solution, and in 2011, the Hungry Tiger program was created.
Funded by a $97,000 grant from the State Farm Insurance Youth Advisory Board and administered by Missouri Southern State University, the Hungry Tiger program provides weekend meals for students and their families who need them.
The program consists of a student board that meets after school once a week to help prepare meals, plan menus and stock the Hungry Tiger food pantry. Hoover said the program is more than just a community service project for the students who participate.
"The program forces the students to utilize math skills and communication art skills as they learn to read and follow recipe instructions and plan menus," Hoover said.
Part of the grant money was also used to purchase video and computer equipment, which allows the students to promote the program. Recently, the students produced their own commercial.
"Last week they made a chicken alfredo, and before that they made chili," Hoover said.
Each week the students prepare enough food to send home two lunches, two dinners and snacks with students signed up for the backpack program. The food that needs to be refrigerated is sealed in plastic containers and frozen. On Fridays the food is then place in unmarked backpacks and discretely sent home with students.
To help promote the program and to raise money to keep it going, this year's student board has written and designed a cookbook just in time for the holidays. Hoover said the book makes an excellent Christmas gift, and it's great for people who are looking for quick, easy and healthy recipes. It could also be a first cookbook for children.
"Most are recipes that I've used in class over the years," she said. "Some are student recipes used in the backpacks. They are easy and written in very specific, step-by-step instructions."
The cost of the cookbook is $10 and may be purchased by calling the junior high school or by emailing Hoover at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to donate directly to the Hungry Tiger program, you may contact the Carthage R-9 School District Foundation by calling 417-359-7020.
The following recipes are from the Hungry Tiger cookbook.
Best-ever banana bread
13/4 cups all-purpose flour
11/2 cups sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake about 1 hour and 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and splits slightly.
1 pound ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 can diced tomatoes in their juice
Shredded cheddar cheese
6 to 8 small flour tortillas
1 can enchilada sauce (red or green)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef and drain. Stir in taco seasoning, 1/4 cup water, green chilies and tomatoes and simmer 10-15 minutes. Spoon meat mixture into tortillas, sprinkle with cheese, roll up and place-seam side down in a greased 8-by-8-inch baking pan.
Pour enchilada sauce over the rolled tortillas and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and return to oven to melt.
Crisp little chocolate cookies
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 cup crisp rice cereal
1 stick margarine or butter, melted
1 egg slightly beaten
3 tablespoons water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, cereal, melted butter, water and eggs, and mix well. Form into 1-inch balls. Placed on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet.