Summer Meals Program starts Thursday
Triangle Community Outreach is partnering with the Texas Hunger Initiative to help feed children now that the school year is over by sponsoring the Summer Meals Program.
Every summer when classes are over for the summer months, many children and teens can no longer rely on schools to provide a nutritious breakfast and/or lunch.
“This is a poor area, many people are struggling, kids are left home all day and some parents just don’t take care of their kids,” Pearlanna Carron, executive director of Triangle Community Outreach said.
While Carron noted the various reasons children might miss nutritious meals during the summer months, she said efforts were being made to counteract the growing food insecurity in Port Arthur.
Locations all over Port Arthur are opening stations to provide free healthy meals to the students throughout the summer months.
The two agencies on Thursday are hosting a kick-off to bring awareness to the food insecurity issue, and to provide information where meals will be provided.
This summer marks the eighth year Triangle Community Outreach has provided meals for students at no cost.
This year’s event is scheduled from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the Barbara Jacket Park, 200 Gilliam Circle, Port Arthur.
Students 18 and younger are eligible regardless of their economic circumstances. Though the event is targeting Port Arthur children, no child will be turned away, Carron said.
“No documentation will be needed, no criteria is needed other than you,” Carron said.
The agencies plan to set up about 40 sites where children will be able to get food.
The sites will decide which meal or meals they are going to serve.
Last year, more than 30,000 meals were served during the summer months.
In addition to information about the food centers, during Thursday’s kick-off the Southeast Texas Food Bank will be there distributing food or fruit to those who come out. There will also be games and activities for children and children can play in the water park.
The Texas Hunger Initiative is sponsoring bounce equipment for the day.
John Puder, regional manager for Child Hunger Outreach, Texas Hunger Initiative, said the number of children in Jefferson County suffering from food insecurity is higher than many other parts of the state, and Port Arthur’s rate is higher than Beaumont.
“When school is over, it becomes a hunger season. Our program tries to fill that gap by providing meals that meet USDA guidelines,” Puder said.
For those who cannot attend the kick-off, they can find out where the nearest center to them is by call 2-1-1 and stating their address, visiting the website www.summerfood.org, or text FOODTX to 877-877.