Study shows over 80,000 East Texas children don't get proper meals

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A new study released Thursday has disturbing news for East Texas children. A study conducted by Feeding America, the nation's largest hunger relief organization, revealed that 26 East Texas counties have a severe problem with childhood hunger. Child advocates are using the information to develop strategies to fight the problem.

There's a new politically correct term for children going hungry. It's called child food insecurity.

"Kind of means that they're not sure where their next meal is going to come from," says Robin Thacker, the Nacogdoches Independent School District Director of Child Nutrition.

School district child nutrition directors have a good idea who the children are. They just look at the number of free and reduced lunch applications sitting on their desks this week.

"And this was returned on Tuesday and Wednesday and you see the stack is pretty high," says Thacker.

Head start sees the problem it first hand.

"A lot of kids that come in here and they might not have had a good breakfast or might not have had a good meal the night before," says Ricki Strahan, the Head Start Lunch Room Supervisor.

Right now NISD elementary children, no matter their family's income, are receiving free breakfasts.

"We're actually addressing the fact a lot of our kids that probably needed to eat are not eating breakfast so we will be feeding them breakfast and the participation numbers look really good.All of our children are eating," says Thacker.

At head start every child receives a nutrition assessment.

"A dietician looks over that information and gives us a break down on what each individual child is lacking and where we can serve that child," says Strahan.

There are many on the front line with jobs to provide nutritious foods.

"We feed a lot of children, just trying to make sure they are satisfied for the day," says Treyvon Williams, a Nacogdoches Independent School District Food Service Truck Driver.

A sense of pride falls over the workers for the job they do.

The complete study, "Map the Meal Gap," can be found on the Feeding America website. The link can be found below.

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