Kitchen on the Street: Feeding hungry kids each weekend- Annie Z. Yu, The Republic

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On Fridays, about 1,500 kids in the Phoenix area receive Kitchen on the Street’s Bags of Hope, containing food to eat over the weekend.

Before the recession came along, Martin Garcia had a house, a marriage and a steady job as a bill collector in Phoenix.

But things began unraveling in 2007. He lost his job and in turn, the house. His wife left, twice. And suddenly he was left wondering how to clothe, house and feed three young children.

He took odd jobs — a security-guard shift here, a landscaping position there. He secured another bill-collecting job and maintained that for a year before quitting to take care of his three young kids.

“I had no other choice,” said Garcia, pointing to instances such as calls from the school telling him he needed to come pick up his children. “I had a flexible schedule … at my lunch time I’d go pick them up. But there’d be times I didn’t have that flexible schedule, and I had nobody to pick up my kids.”

The instability led the family to live in four different homes and the children to attend four different schools in the past few years.

With his only income coming from occasional jobs, Garcia needed help. His three children receive free breakfast and lunch at a Phoenix school, but it wasn’t enough.

“There would be those days I would wake up in the morning and (think) ‘OK, I’ve got to figure out a way to get my kids something (to eat),’ especially on the weekends,” Garcia said.

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