• 93°

Summer feeding programs start in SETX, options available in Port Arthur & Mid-County

The City of Port Arthur is represented by several social services whose agencies are committed to providing free food resources for families during the summer break.

Triangle Community Outreach, 3505 Procter St., is one such agency.

Director Pearlanna Carron said this year’s annual feeding program, which usually starts in June, began in late March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which forced students out of school early.

“We are contracted by the Texas Department of Agriculture to provide meals every summer,” she said. “This time it’s a little different because of the pandemic. We started serving earlier and will be extending it through August.”

Triangle Community Outreach prepares healthy, nutritious meals for kids. The Grab-and-Go program is available to all children 18 years old and younger.

Meals are provided Monday-Friday’s from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Serving times vary per a location. To find the nearest location, call 409-332-8877.

Example entrees feature corn dogs, green beans, corn, beef patties with rice and gravy, beets, lasagna, carrots or applesauce.

Two frozen meals are given per a feeding, along with drinks and snacks.

Carron said the content of the meals is just as important as the meal itself.

“We have to have a part of each major food group — protein, fruit or vegetable, grain and milk,” she said. “We know that we have a problem with obesity and juvenile diabetes, so by proving healthy meals we can try to alleviate or prevent some of those childhood diseases caused by what we eat.”

Carron said the feeding program is important in our area.

“In this area, Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange, 100 percent of the kids qualify for free or reduced lunch,” she said. “That means that every child who goes to school here can potentially not have a meal when school is no longer there to provide it. That’s why we’re important.”

Those in need of food help are also directed to setxfoodbank.org. There is a “Get Help” tab that links to a drop down menu, breaking down services in partner counties. The Jefferson County Food Assistance page lists 24 area agencies, contact numbers and hours of service to best serve local needs.

For more information, call 409-839-8777.

Dan Maher, director of the Southeast Texas Food Bank, shared the importance of these programs.

“Families are stretched thin with the coronavirus right now,” he said. “They may not know that these sources are available. Summer feeding is an important resource in the community. The schools and organizations that stepped up have an important role in filling some of the food gaps this year.”

The Food Bank is not a feeding site, but is one of many supplementing these feeding services.

Maher said their main role is to share accurate information on available services.

“Some of these families are not aware of these services, especially those that never needed it before,” he said. “It’s important that families with children understand that there are options to get food, we just need to lead them to the right resources.”

“Be a Champion,” a Houston based charity, also provides meals at no cost to children, which started in April.

The locations are Life Church, Sam Houston Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Port Acres Elementary, Memorial Baptist Church, Port Arthur Townhomes, Amber Park Apartments and the Encounter Church in Groves.

Serving is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Friday’s only at Antioch Baptist Church in Beaumont from 2-5 p.m.

Port Arthur ISD’s Child Nutrition Department is also a primary food provider in the community.

The independent school district recently changed the Community Eligibility Provision to allow all of PAISD schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students free of charge.

To find a nearby feeding meal site and hours of operation, call 211, text FOODTX to 877-877 or visit SummerFood.org.