More than 13-million children nationwide are lacking the proper nutrition in their homes, and some schools districts in Central Texas are working to change that.
The number of children receiving free or reduced lunch exceeds more than half of the student population, which means some parents might not have the means to provide nutritious meals at home.
Dr. Joseph Welch who is the Executive Director of Student Service at Killeen, said this is why his school district is stepping in to help, especially during the summer.
“I don't want a single kid to worry about where they're going to get breakfast or lunch during the day during the summer. When we go on vacation many of our students that rely upon that meal that breakfast and lunch during the day they're not necessarily going to get that,” Welch said.
During the school year, around 61% of the Killeen ISD student population receives free or reduced lunch for parents who qualify, but in the summer the districts said the feeding program is open to all. Welch said because of the summer feeding program the district can provide breakfast and lunch to anyone ages 18 and under at no cost.
Killeen ISD has a total of 30 sites so far throughout the city making it easily accessible for children to get a healthy meal.
“I want them to be able to walk a safe path a short path in order to get something to eat this summer,” Welch said.
Neighboring districts like Temple ISD also has a growing number of students in need. Israel Garcia, who is the School Nutrition Supervisor, said therefore they too have 7 sites children can eat at during the summer.
“Currently in our district we’re about 76% free and reduced. A lot of the 76 percent of the households that are free and reduced once school ends sometimes they don't have a means for providing a meal for their children,” Garcia said.
Both districts agree it's equally satisfying to know their districts are helping to fight hunger in our communities.
“Whenever we’re able to do that, it definitely means not only a lot to them but a lot to us as well,” Garcia said.
The summer feeding program receives its funding from the state and federal government. Dr. Welch said Killeen ISD is always looking for more volunteers to consider allowing their establishment to become a feeding site.
“I’m asking anyone out there who has a church, daycare, apartment complex or facility that would love to get in on this program to give us a call at 254-336-2822. From there they can speak with Mrs. Evans our Director of Student Nutrition. Providing this service and opportunity is so important to us as a district to help be an active engaged member in our community,” Welch said.
Most of the programs start in June once schools out and end in August right before school resumes for the fall.
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