By Todd Staples, Texas Agriculture Commissioner
The fight to end hunger in the Lone Star State begins in our homes and communities, which is why I’m proud to partner with NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and leaders across the state who have accepted my annual Mayors Challenge.
This important collaborative initiative, which is being promoted on statewide billboards featuring “Neon Deion,” encourages Texas mayors to raise awareness of and increase participation in the Summer Nutrition Programs. These federally funded programs, administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture, provide free meals during the summer to children who typically rely on meals served at school.
The disparity between the number of meals served during the school year and those served during the summer is staggering statewide. During the school year, Texas schools serve an average 2.3 million lunches each day for free or reduced prices to children from low-income families. By contrast during the summer, fewer than 418,000 lunches per day are served to eligible children. This means only one thing – too many children in our state are at risk of going hungry during the summer.
It is important to note, these programs are only a part of the solution to assist Texas families who need a hand in getting back on their feet. If we are to truly succeed in ending hunger in Texas, we must do more than offer families access to a healthy meal – we need to connect them with opportunities, such as training for higher-paying jobs, that will help them improve their situations.
Fortunately, many of the sites serving free meals this summer are also providing a fun, educational environment where kids will stay active in the summer.
To find a location hosting the Summer Nutrition Programs in your community, look for the billboards featuring Deion Sanders and remember this slogan – Join the Fun. Call 211 – or visit www.SummerFood.org.