The Lone Star State takes pride in being a leader, but now we’re No. 1 in an area where I would prefer to be last. Sadly, Texas leads the nation in the number of children under 18 who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Recently, the non-profit group, Feeding America, reported that more than 22 percent of Texans under 18 don’t have enough nutritious food to remain healthy. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are resources available to Texas children so they don’t have to go to bed hungry.
Now that school is out for the summer, we want all parents and schoolchildren to know that quality food is available in most areas of the state.
The Texas Department of Agriculture administers summer nutrition programs that operate similar to the school lunch program, except there is no paperwork to fill out. Kids just need to show up, and they’ll receive a healthy meal. We have recruited partners from across the state to help us ensure children continue to receive well-balanced, nutritious meals while they’re away from school for the summer.
Even though the bell rings for the summer, we can still teach children the 3E’s of Healthy Living - Education, Exercise and Eating Right. Some schools, along with local organizations, serve the meals all summer long and provide physical and educational activities. And local organizations that serve children meals are reimbursed for their participation, so as they serve these children, it is not breaking the bank.
Communities, cities and YMCAs are stepping up to the plate and putting food on it, but Texans have to participate. We need to make certain we address these needs for Texas kids. I’m urging children and parents to call 2-1-1 and ask where the nearest summer food service location is in their community.