SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - When the last school bell rings, summer vacation starts for many kids, but for low-income families, the summer weeks could mean they can no longer rely on free or reduced-price school lunches.
On June 5, The East Texas Food bank kicked off a program to help feed those kids. Tim Butler, the food bank's program service director, says summer vacation can add a burden to many low-income families.
"A lot of kids in the East Texas area rely on the national school lunch program," said Butler. "Not only for lunch but for breakfast, too. So, you can imagine being a child and not having access to that for the next three months."
According to the food bank, one n four East Texas children live with food insecurity, and 78,000 children in the area depend on free or reduced-price school lunches.
"It varies from child to child, but food insecurity is not having access to food when needed," said Butler.
To help feed these children during the summer, the East Texas Food Bank established the 'Summer Food Service Program.'
"We come in to service food to kids, free of charge," said Amber Baquet, the Child Hunger Program Manager. "You just have to be 18 years or younger."
The program depends on the community's support with donations or by volunteering.
"Monetary donations are the best for this program because the program requires us to buy fresh," said Butler.
Baquet says there are 70 sites with low-income communities in the East Texas area.
"We see the areas that are in it the most need and what areas qualify," said Baquet. "In East Texas, it's the majority."
Last year, over 118,000 meals were provided through the program, and the food bank only expects more children to come knocking on their door this summer.
For more information on the sites click here.