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East Texas Food Bank summer food program kicks off to help fill meal gap

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Published: Jun. 7, 2022 at 5:56 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2022 at 6:07 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The East Texas Food Bank expanded their Summer Food Program to more locations on Tuesday to help fill the meal gap during summer for families.

The program began in 2005 to fill the meal gap left when kids are home for summer and lose access to free and reduced meals.

East Texas Food Bank CEO Dennis Cullinane said the program is important every year as one in four East Texas children go hungry.

“This year we’ve got a lot of things going on with inflation that really been happening at the grocery stores,” Cullinane said. “I think food costs are up like eight percent to last year, and that’s a lot for a family to take on. Especially families that are eligible for free and reduced lunches at school.”

Last year they were able to serve almost 29,000 meals. This year they are preparing to serve 50,000 meals across East Texas. Tyler Mayor Don Warren and city leaders were there to help serve the meals to kids.

“When you have the lunch program at school and then the kids get out of school for the summer sometimes there’s a gap in the lunches,” Warren said. “Some programs have breakfast. So this is a place for them to come this summer and have lunch, they can come once a week, they can come everyday.”

Favian Jauregui brought his four kids. He said this was a nice way to get them out of the house.

“Everything is going up so you know, free, I mean it’s good. It’s fun for the kids, it’s something different for the kids, I guess it helps out a lot,” Jauregui said.

There is no proof of income required. Cullinane says events like this help them reach those who need it most. The program is funded by grants and donations.

“There’s over 80,000 children in East Texas that are food insecure and this is our way of at least getting out there and giving them direct support and really trying to encourage the rest of the communities to do their own types of programs,” Cullinane said.

The program is funded through grants and donations. To find locations to get free meals for those 18 and younger, visit the ETFB website.

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