For so many families, summer means road trips to the beach, hikes at Texas state parks and days at the neighborhood pool. But, far too many low-income parents spend the summer months worrying about how they will stretch their lean budgets to feed their children the breakfasts and lunches they would normally get during school. For more than 2 million children in Texas, school meals are their most consistent source of healthy food — 1 in 4 children in Texas lives in poverty and their families struggle to afford food. Rather than summer being a carefree time for children to relax and have fun with friends, childhood hunger nationwide and in Texas begins to climb when schools close their doors.
To help ease poor families’ worries, the federal Summer Nutrition Programs provide healthy meals and snacks to children in low-income areas. While summer schools, churches, food banks, summer camps, city parks and other sites in Texas do participate in the Summer Nutrition Programs, they only reach a fraction of the children who normally rely on school meals during the school year. Of the 2.3 million children in Texas who receive free or reduced-priced lunches during school, just 12 percent of those children get summer meals, according to the Food and Research Action Center .