Summer program feeds thousands of hungry Central Texas kids

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by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

kvue.com

Posted on June 14, 2013 at 5:33 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 14 at 6:37 PM

AUSTIN -- Thousands of Central Texas children are out of school, but hunger never takes a vacation.

One program is making sure kids who received free lunch during the school year are eating during the summer as well.

Camp counselors like Alphonso Castillo at the YMCA Summer Camp in East Austin make sure each child gets the nutrition they need to stay active throughout the day.

“We serve about 60 kids,” Castillo said.

Every child who asks gets a free lunch. It's part of the Summer Food Service Program run by the Capital Area Food Bank.

“They get anything from turkey sandwiches, turkey subs, baloney sandwiches,” Castillo said. “The other day we had baked chicken sandwiches. Every food group is touched in the food program. I know a lot of families in this area need the extra help, and they appreciate it.” 

The summer camp is just one of 56 community sites offering free lunches to kids under 18. Any child under the age of 18 is eligible for a free lunch under the federally-funded program.

According to the food bank, one in four children in Central Texas are at risk of going hungry on a daily basis.

“Kids all over the community still need to be fed,” said Capital Area Food Bank spokesperson Joanna Linden.

Summer is the food bank's busiest time of the year. Right now it's serving about 48,000 people a week; 20,000 of them are children.

“We turn this entire warehouse over in one month. That's two million pounds of food, which is equivalent to a Southwest Airlines plane a day in weight,” Linden said.

While the Capital Area Food Bank needs all the donations it can get, it's also in need of something else this summer -- volunteers.

“We have a lot of food coming in and it tends to bottleneck at the food bank,” Linden said.

The faster volunteers can sort the food, the quicker it gets to those who need it the most.

Click here for more information about volunteering for the food bank.

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