EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - The East Texas Food Bank, Longview and the Nacogdoches Independent School Districts kicked off their summer service food programs, handing out free nutritious meals to any kid 18 and under. Thousands are taking advantage of a free meal.
Kids were cleaning their plates across East Texas Tuesday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is sponsoring the Summer Food Service Program. They are providing free hot meals; helping children in low-income areas get the nutrition they need.
"When school is out, one in 10 children who has access to a free reduced lunch program at school is without access to a summer meal," said Robert Bush, with the East Texas Food Bank.
This summer, the East Texas Food Bank says more than 160,000 free meals will be served.
"Hunger doesn't take a summer vacation," said Bush. "So, we're working very hard to make sure that children have access to nutritious food."
Longview ISD is telling kids to just show up. You don't need to register to get a free meal and no one will ask for proof of income or age. The same goes for East Texas families in Nacogdoches. Nacogdoches ISD is serving hot lunch and in some cases breakfast. Teresa Garcia is volunteering her home as a feeding site.
"I saw that a lot of kids were outside during the whole summer and some their moms work and their dads work and they don't have no body to give them food,' said Garcia, "So, that's why I decided to do that."
And, aside from the free meal, the kids say the best part is.
"Playing with my friends," said Abraham Perez.
"Kids have nothing to do in the summer, and this gives them some structure, but yet they have a lot of fun," said Debbie Isham, with the Texas Parks and Recreation.
"We call it 'Eat smart, play hard,'" said Bush. "We have nutritious food, but we also have activities, and children learn about nutrition education, so they can learn about food, where it comes from and what's healthy."
At some sites, the East Texas Food Bank is offering free transportation to those without a way to get to the meal. Just call 2-1-1.
"We don't want there to be any barrier to a child having access to nutritious food," said Bush. "It kicks off their summer. I think they have a really good time and there's a lot of joy that comes from today."
With all of these programs there is no sign up and no fee. Your child simply needs to show up.
If you'd like to find out where a Summer Food Service Program is in your area just go to our home page. Click on the Big Red Box and scroll down to the link, "Summer Food Service Programs."