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Summer Meals are Available for Needy Texas Children (6/1/2015)

AUSTIN - The last bell of the school year is ringing for many Texas kids, and summer vacation is here. Yet whether it is summer break or not, hunger never takes a vacation. Nearly two million Texas children are food insecure, which means they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. However, there are resources to help so Texas children don’t go hungry. 

Each summer, the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) partners with community organizations to serve healthy meals to children in need at meal sites across Texas. These efforts are vital to nourishing young people during the summer months. Summer food programs help children succeed by providing the nutrition needed for these students to return to school in the fall ready to learn.

From remote rural communities to the largest cities in the state, children have access to nutritious meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Texas families have three ways to locate SFSP meal sites. Beginning today, June 1, Texans can find nearby meal sites through one of the following means:

  • Calling 211,
  • Visiting TDA’s online meal site locator at www.summerfood.org or
  • Texting FOODTX to 877-877.

“Ensuring Texas children have access to good nutrition is a year-round endeavor at the Texas Department of Agriculture,” Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said. “The long summer vacation presents distinct challenges for families in need, and each year, our team makes a Texas-size effort to support our valued partners in the Summer Food Service Program so that Texas children don’t go hungry.”

To watch a television spot promoting the program, click here.

SFSP is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by TDA in Texas. Eligible community organizations partner with TDA to serve meals in areas where more than 50 percent of children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program. Sponsoring organizations include schools, faith-based groups, nonprofit summer camps, government agencies and other tax-exempt organizations. All meal sites must be sponsored by an organization that has a contract with TDA.

To increase awareness of SFSP, many sponsor sites will host outreach initiatives like kick-off events, as well as distribute promotional materials and conduct media campaigns. Schools also provide information to students at the end of the school year about how to find meal sites using TDA’s three tools. TDA encourages parents to connect with their child’s school to learn more about food assistance programs.

At open sites in areas where poor economic conditions exist, meals will be provided to persons age 18 or younger without charge or determination of income eligibility. Also, persons over the age of 18 who are determined by a state or local educational agency to have a mental or physical disability and who participate in a public or nonprofit private school program established for people with mental or physical disabilities are eligible to participate without charge or determination of income eligibility.

At sites located in areas where poor economic conditions do not exist, free or reduced price meals are based on the income eligibility guidelines established by USDA. Foster children and children who are members of households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits are automatically eligible to receive free meal benefits at SFSP meal sites. Meals are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.

For more information about TDA’s Summer Nutrition Programs, visit www.summerfood.org or call TDA’s Food and Nutrition Division at (877) TEX-MEAL.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.