Lovepacs was founded in 2011 by a group of parents in The Colony whose children voiced concerns about classmates who might experience food insecurity during school breaks.

Although Ritu Gupta and Michelle Leavitt started volunteering with Lovepacs for different reasons and in different communities, they both are strong believers in the mission of the nonprofit.

In a nutshell

Lovepacs provides mostly non-perishable, easy to open and minimal cooking food items to children on the free or reduced lunch program through public schools. The organization primarily supplies the boxed items during extended school breaks.

How we got here

Gupta said when her four children were very young, she was looking for a way to get them involved in community service, but the only place she found that would let little kids help was Lovepacs.

Leavitt started volunteering with her church group at the Little Elm Lovepac location, and while she enjoyed serving there, she was happy to hear the Lovepac location in Plano was becoming active again under the leadership of Mimi Conner.

“I grew up in Plano and was raising kids here,” Leavitt said. “To know there was an opportunity to make an impact in my own community was exciting.”

Gupta and Leavitt met in 2020 and became co-leaders of the Plano Lovepacs community in 2023.

The setup

School counselors and social workers in the PISD schools identify students who need Lovepacs. Some requests are long term while others are temporary.

“Last week I had a call from a counselor [saying], ‘I have a family who can only pay their medical bills. They can’t go grocery shopping for two weeks. Can you bring us some boxes?’ We will take care of it,” Leavitt said.

Lend a hand

Gupta and Leavitt are both volunteers and work alongside hundreds of volunteers who continuously help fulfill the mission. Volunteers range from 3 to 89 years old. There are a variety of tasks that need to be done, such as decorating and packing boxes, stocking shelves, delivering boxes to schools donating food items. Financial donations are needed as well, Gupta and Leavitt said.

“We don't turn away anybody, we want people to invest in their community,” Gupta said. “An older women's group comes all the time and they sit down and decorate boxes. Now they are so invested they pick up 10 boxes and deliver them to schools.”

The context

When reflecting on what it takes to get 1,500 Lovepac boxes delivered for every school break, the co-leaders listed the numerous contributions from local entities, including the fact that they pay $1 a month to Medical City Plano to rent three office spaces.

“At the end of a long challenging day, watching the boxes go out the door into people’s cars, into the schools and the whole process for a holiday comes to an end, there is something very satisfying about that,” Leavitt said. “I look at that box and I know it took months of preparation for this box to go to the school. That is a rewarding thing to see.”