It’s the first day of summer, and you know what that means. Everyone wants to be on the river or lying next to a pool relaxing and trying to stay cool in the Texas heat. But did you know that while you are enjoying your summer vacation, there are many kids who depended on schools for breakfast and lunch and may now wonder where their next meals will come from?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are 15.3 million children under 18 that live in food insecure households, meaning that they don’t have consistent access to enough nutritious food to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Approximately 70% of San Marcos CISD students and 50% of Hays CISD students qualify for the free or reduced lunch school program. This means that during the school year, these students are provided with breakfast and lunch five days out of the week. Once school is out for summer vacation, where do these kids eat?
The USDA’s Summer Food Service Program is designed to ensure kids 18 and under have access to nutritious meals throughout the summer months when school is not in session. For a site near you, please click here. Breakfast and/or lunch is provided for the kids at no charge, and most places only have a small fee for those in the family over 18. Southside Community Center also provides a hot meal every day at 5:00 p.m.
The Hays County Food Bank has also started a program, the Child Nutrition Engagement Program, to help children in our county be nutritionally healthy and free of hunger. During the school year, we travel to various sites in order to fight hunger through dietary and nutritional awareness. Kids and their families learn how to read and interpret food nutrition labels, gain knowledge on various ailments and diseases associated with poor nutrition, and plan well-balanced meals. Since kids are not in school during the summer, we have partnered with the YMCA in Buda, Good Samaritan Camp in Wimberley, and various other places throughout the county to hold these food education classes.
Children need proper nutrition in order to reach their full potential. Help us help them. One way you can help is by donating to our annual Summer Fundraising Campaign, ‘Lend A Hand.’ Our goal this year is to raise $15,000, which will help provide 3,000 meals for individuals and families in need. You can make a donation to help here, or you can even become a Hunger’s Hero and schedule a monthly donation. Hunger knows no season, and we will be here fighting hunger as long as there is a need.
Another way to help is to host a food drive. Food Drives are needed all year long, and not just when we are running a contest, in response to a disaster or during the holiday season. Food comes in our doors, gets weighed and sorted, and goes right back out to feed the hungry. We are a constant revolving door, and therefore we need your help to stay stocked. If you are interested in hosting a food drive, please fill out this event registration form. Contact Ashley Hurst by email or phone at (512) 392-8300 x230 if you have any questions or just need more information.
And remember, the easiest way to help is just to share our news. There are those that NEED HELP and those that CAN HELP that don’t even know about us yet.