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Program Provides Free Summer Food To Children

June 30, 2011

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It's 11:45 in the morning at the Dewey Recreation Center just west of downtown, and dozens of kids are eating, finishing up eating, or playing games and interacting with the rec staff at the Dewey Center. A few parents sit off to the side, having received at least one benefit in the summer that they receive during the school year--a free lunch for their kids. That's no small deal for area parents and for those fighting hunger in the community. They're all participating in the Summer Food Service Program, a government-sponsored program that provides free breakfast and lunch for students throughout the months when school is out. Alexis Weaver of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce said there is a real need in the community for partners fighting hunger and families to participate.

The Summer Food Service Program has become a staple in recent years, but local officials say more work needs to be done to ensure that everyone who needs it is aware of it. The McLennan County Hunger Coalition, the Food Service Task Force, and others are teaming up, says Weaver, to spread the word. It's all part of the fight against food insecurity. Simply put, children on free lunch have two guaranteed meals a day during the school year. That goes away during the summer without such a program.

The Dewey Recreation Center feeds around sixty to seventy children a day, saving money for parents who are already on a tight budget. Additionally, Ryan Sparks of the Dewey Center said it ensures that children receive a nutritious meal, as opposed to inexpensive food that is often high in fat.

The effort to feed students is aided by others in the community working to spread the word, as many eligible families are unaware of the availability. Alexis Weaver hopes others will help them market the program.

You can find a link to Summer Food Service Program sites on our website at kwbu.org. For KWBU News, I'm Derek Smith.

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