Did you know that 1 in 3 East Texas children are facing hunger this summer?
The East Texas Food Bank’s Summer Food Program is underway at 21 sites throughout our East Texas service area to help feed those hungry children.
The program serves children under 18 during the time when they no longer have access to free and reduced meals and snacks that they receive during the school year. Since these programs end when school does, the Summer Food Service Program helps fill the hunger gap ensuring that children continue to receive nutritious meals during the summer.
Normally, children can enjoy their meals from the program at places like schools, parks and other recreational facilities with their friends. This year, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed that.
Instead of children staying at the site to eat as in years past, they can pick up their meals and return to home.
“There definitely is an impact this year,” said Lexi Tremble, Summer Food Site Supervisor for Andrew’s Park in Tyler. “It’s an interesting time for families because usually they come and we have activities and get to engage with the kids. We can’t have the full extent of our program, but we are still feeding them and they are grateful for that.”
Another change for this year is that children pick up both a lunch for that day and a breakfast for the next morning. On the day we visited Andrews Park, over 30 meals were distributed.
“The parents and the kids love they are getting both meals at the same time,” Tremble said adding that St. Paul’s Children Foundation also participates in a summer backpack program that provides extra meals over the weekend on Fridays.
“We’ve received so many positive remarks from parents about how important and necessary that is for their kids,” she said.
Parents like Rita, whose 2 year-old, energetic son Romeo was playing at the park on a hot, summer day, said the meals will be helpful.
“It’s convenient,” Rita said adding that it was her first time to visit the site. “I drove by, saw the sign and he saw kids playing and got excited.”
Rita said she was sure she and Romeo would be back to participate again in the program on their park visit.
Tremble shared that despite the challenges faced this year, the East Texas Food Bank has done a great job.
“We are so grateful to the food bank,” she said. “Just me being able to see the kids come, get excited about meals, getting to interact with them and talk about how important this meal is for them. Thank you for allowing us at St. Paul’s to provide those meals.”
For more information about the Summer Food Program and locations near you, visit EastTexasFoodBank.org/SummerFood.
If you would like to financially support our work and help provide for the 1 in 3 East Texans children facing hunger, please give at EastTexasFoodBank.org/DonateNow.