Three ways we are feeding children during the new school year

School Child with Meal

Schools in East Texas are looking a lot different for students and parents in East Texas due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Difficult decisions are being made about whether to send children to school or keep them at home, learning from a distance. And, of course, we all have questions about what the future holds.

In East Texas today, 1 in 3 children are facing hunger. This includes children who depend on free or reduced meals they would normally be receiving in school. This puts even more pressure on the parents of these children as they question “who is going to feed them during the upcoming months?”

The good news is that the East Texas Food Bank, our partner agencies and Feeding America are working hard preparing to ensure children have the food they need as they return to school, whether that be on campus or virtually.

Here is how we are helping this school year:

  1. BackPack Program – The East Texas Food Bank partners with school throughout our 26 county service area to provide food for children who are at risk of going hungry on weekends and holidays. Our plan is to support 148 school sites with food that children that are enrolled in the BackPack Program can take home for the weekend. We anticipate serving 6,600 children this year. Click here to read more about this program.
  2. Kids Café & Afterschool Snack Program – This program provides free meals and snacks to low-income children through a variety of existing community locations where children gather such as Boys & Girls Clubs, churches or public schools. Our plan is to support 23 sites with snacks and meals for children. Click here to read more about this program.
  3. Curbside Distributions – When schools closed earlier this year, the East Texas Food Bank was able to partner with school campuses to distribute nutritious food to families as they picked up school work and campus meals. Should schools close again, we will be able to help in this capacity once more.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we are continuing to help the children, families and seniors who desperately need our help during this crisis. But we can’t do it without our gratuitous donors and volunteers. You can help support our mission of “fighting hunger and feeding hope” by giving a gift today to the East Texas Food Bank or finding out how to volunteer with us.

Summer Food Program wraps up 16th year of serving meals

The East Texas Food Bank Summer Food Program has wrapped up for the year! The program started in 2005 and serves children under 18 when they no longer have access to free and reduced meal programs at school.

Because of COVID-19, our sites had to change to drive-thru pickup and allow children to take their meals home to eat so ensure social distancing and the safety of staff and families. Despite the temporary changes this year, over 22,600 breakfasts and lunches were distributed at 25 sites throughout East Texas.

“I think we fed more kids this year (with the changes),” said Ellann Johnson Executive Director at HOPE Jacksonville. HOPE Jacksonville is an East Texas Food Bank partner agency. “Parents were relieved they didn’t have to pack up the kids and expose them to any germs or COVID-19.”

This was the first year HOPE Jacksonville had a summer feeding site at their organization, but Johnson said it wasn’t the first time they’ve helped with the program. “We supported the volunteers at Sweet Union Apartments here in Jacksonville in previous years.” she said.

Johnson said kids liked all the meals, but an old standard really stood out. “Just the regular ham and cheese sandwich is their favorite,” she said. Johnson also added that the kids enjoyed the vegetable fruit juices that were available this year.

In addition to providing the summer food meals, HOPE Jacksonville also utilized their kitchen on-site to provide an additional meal to children.

“Kids took away a hot meal and the summer food meal,” Johnson said. “I think that was a big bonus.”

The East Texas Food Bank will continue to serve the over 105,000 children who are facing hunger today in our service area. For more information about our other Child Hunger Programs, click here.

Thank you to all our donors and partner agencies who made this program possible and for providing nutritious children for East Texas children facing hunger!

“This food will help out a lot.”

Kaprenai

“Nutritious food is important to have with young children,” said Kaprenai, who we met at an East Texas Food Bank distribution recently. “This food will help out a lot,” she told us.

Kaprenai has a busy household, with six children ranging from 4 to 14 years old. She said that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted her family.

“I’m not working right now and my husband is not working as much as he used to,” she said. “Our income just dropped suddenly.”

Kaprenai said that she was able to find out about the distribution by calling the East Texas Food Bank.

“They told me when it was and I plan to keep coming when I can,” she said.

Kaprenai is appreciative of the help she received, and wants to give thanks to those that help make the distributions possible.

“Thank you for coming out, helping the community, providing and giving back,” she said. “My family is grateful for it.”

To find the local food resources near you, click the orange “FIND FOOD” button at the top of this page.

If you would like to support our work, please click here to learn about the ways you can join the fight against hunger and provide one less worry for families like Kaprenai’s.

“We are just like everyone else right now.”

David

“We are just like everyone else right now,” said David who recently attended a food distribution.

“I’m currently on furlough at work and my wife just went back after a 2 month furlough.”

David said his family of 5 is doing “okay”, however they are feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Fortunately for their family, no one has been sick.

“When we go to the grocery store, we find supply issues,” he said.  “Then there are limits on the number of items you can purchase.”

Having nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables for his family is important to David.

“We try to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle,” he said.  “The produce we received is going to provide options for several meals in the next few days I’m sure.”

David said he appreciates the ability to pick up the items from the distribution and the work that the East Texas Food Bank is doing.

“I just want to give a big thank you,” he said.  “This is very much needed in the community right now.”

With 1 in 4 East Texans facing hunger due to COVID-19, our hunger-relief work is far from over. But thanks to the outpouring of support from the community, we can keep feeding more East Texas families like David’s.

Anyone seeking food assistance can click the “FIND FOOD” at the top of the page to find the closest resource to them.

To support families like David’s, click here to join the fight against hunger.

“We appreciate everything that you have done to help us.”

Rosie

“I got up this morning about 3:30 a.m. and made it here at 4:18 a.m. to be second in line,” Rosie recently told us when we met her at an emergency food distribution. Being an early riser, it was no problem for her and her friendly personality to be in line that early for a 10 a.m. distribution.

Rosie is just one of the thousands of people who have relied on the East Texas Food Bank and our food pantry partners to help them during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Rosie said the food is important to help feed her and her mom.

“Both my mom and I are heart patients,” Rosie said. She added that with her pre-existing condition it makes it more difficult to go out now.  “I wanted to make sure we had the things we needed, so I was able to get boxes for both of us.”

Rosie was very grateful to be able to receive the food during the distribution.

“I thank the East Texas Food Bank for providing the food for us,” she said. “We appreciate everything that you have done to help us.”

With 1 in 4 East Texans facing hunger due to COVID-19, our hunger-relief work is far from over. But thanks to the outpouring of support from the community, we can keep feeding more East Texans like Rosie.

Anyone seeking food assistance can click the “FIND FOOD” at the top of the page to find the closest resource to them.

To support families like Rosie’s, click here to join the fight against hunger.