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Free food programs for kids in Central Texas this summer

Austin ISD started its free meal program on June 6 and is already seeing 3,000 to 4,000 kids a day at its 50 sites across the district.

AUSTIN, Texas — One in five kids in Central Texas are considered food insecure, and many kids depend on the food they receive at school for their meals. But now that schools are on summer break, food is not as readily available.

Summer is a hard time for many parents as they are having to work, pay a babysitter or day care since kids are no longer in school, and provide food for their kids. Leaders with the Central Texas Food Bank said they always see the need for food go up in the summer months.

“It's one of the highest times of the year that families are in need of assistance,” said Sari Vatske, the president and CEO of the Central Texas Food Bank.

Vatske said this increased need for food in the summer is even higher this year, due to inflation.

“Just these past four months, we've seen an increased need of about 15% to 20%, and we anticipate that to continue to rise during the summer,” said Vatske.

That’s why throughout the summer, the food bank is packing up meals to send to sites across the area as part of its summer food service program.

"Our afterschool meals program goes away, and it becomes the summer food service program," said Vatske. “And so, we want to make sure that any child that was receiving breakfast or lunch in school doesn't miss out on those meals. “

The food bank is not the only group making sure kids get fed. Austin ISD and school districts across the area have their own feeding programs as well.

Austin ISD’s free breakfast and lunch summer program is open to all kids, even if they are not students.

“It's anyone – doesn't even need to be a student. It could be a 3-year-old, it can be a 2-year-old – any child under the age of 18 or 21 with disabilities,” said David Simon, an Austin ISD area supervisor

Simon said they are serving 3,000 to 4,000 kids per day right now at their 50 sites across the district.

On Wednesday, dozens of kids were at Travis Heights Elementary getting free lunch. This is a meal they may have missed out on, if it weren’t for these types of free summer food programs.

“They would be in a food desert and they would be in a situation where they don't have food, unfortunately,” said Simon. “That's why it's so important for us to be out here and for us to be promoting the fact that we need the community to participate and we want them to know that we want them to come.”

There are many other school districts also offering free summer food programs. You can find links to those here:

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