A new report spotlights the success and shortfalls of summer lunch programs for Texas students.
The Food Research and Action Center found that the number of lunch programs across the state grew by 17 percent last year. However, these programs only reach about 11 percent of low-income children receiving school lunches.
By law, most Texas schools must continue to provide lunches for needy kids during summer classes. J.C. Dwyer with the Texas Food Bank Network says the study shows a promising expansion of summer lunch programs, but many Texas school kids still experience food insecurity.
“Here in Austin, you know, it’s fashionable to hear that its difficult to get your kids into summer camp when school gets out, but these families are facing a much more difficult problem of actually providing nourishment to their kids,” Dwyer said. “So it’s really great to see that we’re making some progress on this front.”
The group’s goal is to expand summer lunch programs to serve nearly 945,000 children – or at least 40 percent of low-income kids receiving lunches during the school year. The study says that expansion could bring Texas as much as $47 million in federal reimbursement. But Dwyer said that non-profits struggle to pick up the slack when summer school ends in July.
“Once those schools let out for the summer, the hope is that local non-profits and churches and food banks and other agencies will be able to pick up the slack," Dwyer said. "But they’re not used to dealing with that level of programmatic complexity and they’re not used to dealing with the logistics of the program, and so it’s really difficult to be able to create that infrastructure anew every summertime.”
The Food Research and Action center says that Texas was a “ shining example,” but that summer lunch programs need to extend access both in Texas and across the nation.
If you would like to read the full study, you can click here.