One in four children in Texas does not know whether or not he or she will have food for their next meal, a condition known as food insecurity. Texas has the second highest food insecurity rate among children in the nation.
During the school year there are 2.8 million Texas students on the free or reduced lunch program, which provides breakfast and lunch five days a week. These students often go without consistent meals on the weekends and holidays. The summer break is a particularly difficult time for such students. Although free meals are available to free or reduced eligible students in the summer only 12 percent of eligible students participate in the Summer Meals feeding program, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture.
If a church is located in an area where 50 percent or more of children under 18 are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program, that church can be reimbursed for two meals served to a child each day, regardless of the child's eligibility. Churches can choose to prepare meals in house and be reimbursed, or they can be a distribution site where meals are provided by an outside sponsor.
It is clear that not every church is located in such an area, nor has the necessary space or resources to be a stand-alone summer feeding site. There are still ways that a church can participate. Such congregations get involved in the summer feeding program by providing additional volunteers, financial assistance, transportation services, marketing and networking to churches or community-based organizations that are summer meal sites.
If you are interested in becoming a summer feeding site, volunteering at an existing site or learning more about Summer Meals, please contact Grace Norman, the Texas Hunger Initiative's No Kid Hungry Campaign Manager at [email protected].