Downturn in economy means more kids need assistance.
AUSTIN – Federally funded school breakfasts and lunches help millions of low-income children in Texas get nutritious meals during the school year. The Texas Department of Agriculture is looking for organizations to sponsor the Summer Food Service Program <http://www.summerfood.org/> to provide children a healthy diet when school is not in session.
“It’s a disturbing reality that for many children, the only healthy meals they receive are the ones served at school during the academic year,” Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said. “We are committed to ensuring Texas children continue to receive nutritious meals even after school closes for summer, and we will do that through the help of organizations willing to participate in the Summer Food Service Program.”
Last summer, 344 sponsors participated in the program, serving more than 12.6 million meals to children at more than 2,878 sites. Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Jacksonville fed many deserving Texas children.
“If not for the Summer Food Service Program, many of the children would not have received a nutritious meal during the day,” said Ana Paredes, Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church faith formation director. “It made a difference. You could see it in their eyes when they got that food.”
The Summer Food Service Program is offered statewide in areas or at sites where more than 50 percent of the children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program. Organizations that provide services in rural communities or near migrant farm workers and American Indian populations are urged to participate. Eligible sponsoring organizations include schools, nonprofit residential summer camps, government agencies and tax-exempt organizations.
TDA encourages any eligible organization to consider providing this much-needed service to Texas children. The agency will begin accepting applications to participate on Feb. 16. Approved sponsors will be reimbursed meals served to children during the long summer break. Applications are available at www.summerfood.org and are due by
Potential sponsors are required to take training courses offered in several cities before participating in the Summer Food Service Program. Training begins in February for early applicants.
For more information about the TDA’s nutrition programs, visit www.summerfood.org or www.snpTexas.org or call the Food and Nutrition Division office at (877) TEX-MEAL, 877-839-6325.