OKLAHOMA CITY -- You expect injuries when you send fearless teenage boys out on a football field. But the injuries Putnam City West Football Coach saw made him think something wasn't quite right.
"I realized our kids weren't getting bigger, faster, stronger," Putnam City West Head Coach John Jensen said. "They were working out and doing all that stuff, but they weren't growing."
Jensen started a small food pantry in the players' helmet room to help keep his team nourished. But what happened after that simple act changed hundreds of lives.
Local churches, even competing teams, started donating food. And the Patriot Food Pantry began to expand so much, it needed a building of its own.
The pantry is no longer just for football players, either.
Counselor Lisa Wright said she had a student come to her on a Monday morning and tell her all her household had for food over the weekend was a single banana. So Wright's first reaction was to call the Food Bank and get more food.
The Food Bank's Food for Kids program focuses solely on feeding Oklahoma children. And that's when they decided to help stock the pantry as a pilot program.
"It's awesome. We're here to teach kids so they can learn, but kids really can't learn if all they can think about is rumbling in their stomach," Wright said.
On the football field, things have changed as well. Coach Jensen said his players have more energy and in 2010, the number of broken bones went down from 19 to 6.
"Helping kids doesn't stop here on this field," Jensen said. "It doesn't stop when you walk out of the classroom. Mission work and hungry kids aren't always in another country. They're in our own backyard."
There are 21 more schools in Oklahoma on a waiting list for a pantry. Enid and Ardmore schools plan to open one this fall.
News 9 has learned from the PC West Alumni Association that its members will be holding a food drive to "Pack the Pantry."
One event will take place August 20th at the Pointe After Saloon and again at the P.C. West Homecoming game with a dropoff at 50th and Meridian.
To help, you can donate at News9.com/FoodforKids.