Lifestyle

Texas Schools Take Part in Summer Food Service Program for Hungry Kids

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Summer break can be a tough time for Texas students who participate in school breakfast and lunch programs, but the federal Summer Food Service Program is there to help. Texas school districts, together with several across the country, have chosen to work with the program to provide free meals for students 18 years of age and younger, regardless of economic status.

According to Feeding America, 3 million school students in the state of Texas alone qualify for free or reduced-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program. However, only one in six will get that benefit over the summer months due to limited resources when the schools are closed, lack of transportation to participating sites, or lack of education around the program, among other issues.

Texas Schools Take Part in Summer Food Service Program for Hungry Kids

Photo: Facebook/Statewide Parent & Family Engagement Initiative

In a 2016 interview, Eddie Longoria, director of special nutrition programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated, “It’s a huge concern from USDA’s perspective because there’s a very large gap of children who are eligible for those meals who are not receiving them in the summertime. So that means that those children who are not receiving those meals are at risk of going back to the school in the fall and the possibility of them not being completely healthy.” State education leaders have agreed that family poverty is playing a larger role in children’s education. “The majority of students in public K-through-12 education require free and reduced lunches just to be able to ensure that, when they show up to school every day, they have had nutritious meals that allow them to participate fully in the educational experience,” said Michael Sorrell, president of Dallas’ Paul Quinn College.

Texas Schools Take Part in Summer Food Service Program for Hungry Kids

Photo: Facebook/Texas Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program

In an effort to ensure families become aware of the summer program, Texas schools, non-profit groups, and government organizations are working to spread the word, to enable more children to return to school in the fall with nourished minds and bodies. A free online service from the Texas Department of Agriculture is available at the link provided here, allowing families to find out where students can eat for free this summer through this valuable program. Parents can also call 211 or text “FOODTX” to 877-877 in order to find the location nearest to them where the summer meal program is being served. Those who speak Spanish can also call the same number or text “COMIDA” to 877-877.