East Texas Food Bank Summer Food Program aids families amid inflation

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Published: May. 30, 2022 at 4:58 PM CDT|Updated: May. 30, 2022 at 6:25 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Schools across East Texas are wrapping up, and for families who financially rely on free school meals, budgeting can become a challenge. Inflation has only made feeding families harder.

East Texas Food Bank will aid families amidst inflation with the annual East Texas Food Bank Summer Food Program.

The Summer Food Program fills the gap that children have when they do not have access to school meals.

“Families that have children that are eligible for free and reduced lunches really rely on that for their budgets in order to fill their kids’ stomachs,” CEO Dennis Cullinane said.

Students can go to one of the sites and get breakfast and lunch for free.

“There in locations where we know that the children are economically challenged and under-resourced,” Cullinane said.

Cullinane said the program is critical this year because of inflation.

In March, East Texas Food Bank saw the highest number of households served through pantries. March is also most schools spring break, when families do not have the option of free school meals.

“That indicates that families are under a lot of pressure and there’s been a lot of inflation with the grocery prices,” Cullinane said.

According to the USDA, the food-at-home consumer price index increased 1.3 percent from March 2022 to April 2022 and is up 10.8 percent from last April.

At a time when prices go up and families need the food bank most, Cullinane said that donations slow.

“If meal prices go up 10 percent, that’s the amount of meals that we go down in service unless we can have that offset by more generous donations,” Cullinane said.

UT Tyler Professor of Marketing Dr. Kerri Camp attributes the rise in prices to the pandemic, which lead to supply chain disruption, and gas prices rising.

“As long as gas prices continue to increase, they are expecting that this can go another 3 to 4 percent by the end of 2022, so I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the inflation,” Camp said.

To find the locations and times for the Summer Food Program, click here.

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