Summer Months Bring More Hunger
When we think of hungry tummies, we think of a year round problem. But for many children, the intensity and the frequency with which they experience hunger intensifies during summer months.
With summer around the corner we can’t help but think about the number of children who may spend their summer worrying about how to get enough to eat. “I wish I had a school report due.” “I wish I had a test today.” These are things we think we would never hear a child say, but for many children in our community, a summer without school also means a summer with fewer meals. During a school year, many children receive two meals per day ONLY because of what they eat in school. More than 60% of children in Southwest Texas schools rely on free or reduced-price school lunch programs every day.
Once school is out, many parents struggle to find a way to provide three meals each day on top of finding safe and reliable child care . This means that this summer alone, thousands of children could be without a reliable source of balanced, nutritious meals!
One Summer Food Program family shares their story with us this month. Jenna remembers the days when she stayed at home with her three boys during the summer—Josiah, 13, Andrew, 10, and Alexander, 8. Jenna recalls, “It was a challenge to find something for them to do for free every day, and on top of that provide three healthy meals and snacks for them. Financially, it was overwhelming.” Receiving minimal food stamps each month, the summer months drained her already small food allowance. Today she is employed part-time witha child care program, where she can earn money and ensure her boys receive daily nourishment.
Jenna knows if it weren’t for the summer food program, she would run out of food before next month’s allowance kicked in. “Working here, we feed 120 kids each summer. As a mom, I know what I go through to make sure my kids eat. I can imagine how 120 moms would struggle to feed their kids without the Summer Food Program.” Jenna and her boys agree the healthy meals are something their family can’t do without. Alexander remembers days when he has been hungry, “I don’t like feeling hungry because my tummy hurts and I get headaches.” Jenna says it isn’t just the food that is helpful, the meals, which are prepared by the San Antonio Food Bank Community Kitchen, teach children how to eat healthy and show portion control. “I worry about a lot of things as a single mom, but with the Summer Food Program, I have one less thing to worry about,” says Jenna gratefully.
To help meet the nutritional needs of children during the summer months, the San Antonio Food Bank operates summer feeding programs at 135 locations in Southwest Texas. Last year, these sites provided more than 267,000 healthy meals for the summer to children who would otherwise go without.
The need for volunteers and donations increases tremendously each summer. If you would like to help us make summertime a fun time for kids, reach out to the San Antonio Food Bank today by calling (210) 337-3663.