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Western Hidalgo County nonprofit will provide Mission Boys & Girls Club with free meals

The Mission City Council on Monday approved an agreement with a western Hidalgo County nonprofit that will provide Boys & Girls Club members with free after-school meals.

RGV Read and Feed — a nonprofit corporation owned by South Texas College Trustee Victoria “Vicky” Cantu, Peñitas City Councilman Alex Guajardo and his wife, Roxanna — will provide meals to Boys & Girls Club members.

ReadAndFeedLogo“We at least make sure that the kids get something nutritious,” Guajardo said, adding that RGV Read and Feed is excited to partner with the Boys & Girls Club.

RGV Read and Feed already provides meals at La Joya Independent School District campuses, the La Joya Housing Authority and churches across western Hidalgo County.

The Boys & Girls Club serves about 19,000 meals during the school year, according to city records. Another 48,000 meals are served over the summer months.

“There’s no cost to the city for this nutrition service,” said Boys & Girls Club Director Juan Arevalo, who addressed the City Council on Monday. “Meals will be served to club members on a daily basis.”

The Texas Department of Agriculture covers the cost through the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

Members of the City Council voted 3-1 to approve the agreement with RGV Read and Feed, following a recommendation from the Boys & Girls Club board. City Councilman Gus Martinez voted against the agreement.

Concerned about the perception of a conflict of interest, Mayor Armando “Doc” O’caña, who works for the city of Peñitas, recused himself from the discussion and didn’t vote.

The deal resulted from a do-over.

Arevalo had originally recommended RGV Read and Feed on March 11.

After reviewing three vendors from a list provided by the Department of Agriculture, the Boys & Girls Club determined that RGV Read and Feed provided the best service, said city Purchasing Director Eduardo Belmarez.

The City Council, however, asked the Boys & Girls Club to solicit additional information, Belmarez said.

Arevalo contacted seven participants in the Child and Adult Care Food Program on March 20, according to an email provided to members of the City Council.

“I am sending you all this email to get some information on the services you provide to organizations like ours,” Arevalo wrote. “Please answer this questionnaire if you are interested in providing nutrition services to the Boys & Girls Club of Mission.”

The Boys & Girls Club selected the seven providers from the Department of Agriculture list, Belmarez said, focusing on local organizations with the ability to serve Mission.

The city didn’t contact every provider on the list or publish a formal request for information.

Several organizations, including Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and a Mission-based company called Hummingbird Child & Adult Nutrition, submitted information about the services they offer.

The Boys & Girls Club board, though, stuck with RGV Read and Feed because the nonprofit promised year-round service, Belmarez said. Other providers, including Catholic Charities, didn’t offer meals on holidays.

“After evaluation of 9 agencies the Youth Advocacy Board (Boys & Girls Club) is recommending to enter into a one year agreement with RGV Read and Feed,” according to the recommendation reviewed by the City Council on Monday.

RGV Read and Feed will start providing meals as soon as the Department of Agriculture approves the agreement.

“We’re excited about this,” Guajardo said, adding that some kids don’t eat dinner unless they receive an after-school meal. “We’ll be glad to provide the meal.”

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