Program aims to help feed children in need during the summer

Free breakfast and lunch for children of all ages is available this summer, thanks in part to a Hays CISD program aimed at providing meals to those in need.

Hays CISD Nutrition Specialist Melanie McCall said Hays CISD’s Summer Feeding Program aims to serve more than 23,000 children again this year. In 2018, the program served 23,236 children.

The program is free and is open to children from all across the county.   

In San Marcos, 68.5% of students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals; in Kyle and Buda, 47% of students qualify, according to the Hays County Food Bank. Regardless of school affiliation however, the summer nutrition program will provide free meals to all children under 18 years of age within Hays County.

The program began in 2009 as a federally mandated service to summer school attendees.

“The [U.S. Department of Agriculture] recognized that millions of children nationwide did not have adequate access to meals in the summertime like they do during the school year,” McCall said. “The Summer Food Service Program was implemented to provide nutritious breakfast and lunch meals to children who might not otherwise receive meals in the summertime.”

Parents are welcome to join their children but will have to pay $3.50 for their meal.

Food that is served includes vegetables, whole grains, protein, and milk.

The program was created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and serves areas that the USDA deems low-income, according to a USDA factsheet. School districts and states sponsor the program by employing food servers during the summertime while food comes from nonprofit organizations which are later reimbursed by the USDA.

The school districts and the USDA want to serve as many children as possible every summer in an effort to keep them physically and mentally active and healthy, according to the USDA.

“It’s a great way to get the kids out of the house for a little bit in the summertime while having tasty breakfast or lunch,” McCall said. “We hope to see more children across the community come out and enjoy the program this year.”

There will be five locations open June 10-July 2 within Hays CISD that will offer well-rounded breakfasts and lunches at separate times throughout the day.

McCall said children will not be asked which school they go to, if they attend a Hays County school or for any identification when they arrive to eat. Children can go to any location and can find information regarding locations and times at 512-268-1336.

San Marcos CISD is also offering the program at locations throughout the city of San Marcos and its campuses.

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