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How summer hunger has changed for kids during COVID-19

Posted July 27, 2020

view of drive thru line with volunteers helping
Through the end of summer, families can visit one of dozens of weekday meal sites to pick up a breakfast, lunch or snack.

Ever since Tarrant Area Food Bank began operating in 1982, the organization has been devoted to making sure everyone in the community has food to eat year-round. One of its busiest seasons is the summertime when kids are out of school and can no longer rely on school-provided breakfasts and lunch to stay full and energized.

Studies show that one in four children in Texas experiences hunger, and a major cause of that may be because during the summertime, kids lose the access to free meals.

When schools shut their doors in March 2020 due to the risk of COVID-19, the districts scrambled to ensure free meals were still available for students who relied on them. Many schools succeeded by organizing drive-thru meal distributions with lines of cars that wrapped around the block. Furthermore, some schools like Jack C. Binion Elementary School in Birdville ISD provided emergency boxes for students and their families. In a time of rampant job loss and empty grocery store shelves, many people were thankful for pantry staples and emergency provisions.

Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) has a program called Food for Kids to help children receive better access to nutritious meals, both inside and out of school. The Summer Food Service Program is a May-August effort to supply kids with free meals and snacks they would typically receive from schools. TAFB partners with community centers, churches, YMCAs and other organizations to create a space for kids to come enjoy a nutritious meal at no cost to the family.

Due to the onset of COVID-19, however, these sites had to transition from sit-down dining to drive thru stations for grab-and-go bagged meals. From now until the end of the summer, families can visit one of dozens of weekday meal sites to pick up a breakfast, lunch or snack with no questions asked.

COVID-19 safety precautions and the increased need for food have forced a lot of Tarrant Area Food Bank’s operations to change, but one thing has stayed consistent: there are still a lot of hungry kids who rely on our programs and meals. If you or someone you know has a child aged 1-18 who needs free summer meals, visit the TAFB website to find a location near you.

Since the onset of COVID-19, TAFB has supplied more than 47,000 meals via drive-thru to kids visiting summer meal sites. With many schools unsure about their timetable for reopening in the fall, the effort to provide students with vital meals is ongoing.

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