WINDCREST, Texas – Rising food and gas prices are financially crushing families already struggling with the pandemic. Many of them have to choose between getting petrol to go to work or to buy food.
That’s why school food programs are crucial, with 1 in 4 children starving in Texas.
The school cafeteria is more than just a place to eat. This is a safe haven for many hungry children in our community.
“We see an influx of our children coming in hungry. So sometimes they get hungry in the classroom. Sometimes their lunch is all they will get for the rest of the day. So it’s really important because some parents can’t feed their children right now, “said Jacqueline Miges, a second-grade teacher at Windcrest Elementary School, where she also has a daughter in kindergarten.
Miges has seen the effects of the pandemic on families, and she is not the only one worried about the effects of the recent rise in food and gas prices.
“Students get breakfast in the classroom, as well as lunch, after-school food, dinner,” said Stacy Sanchez, director of No Kid Hungry Texas. The organization addresses child hunger across the state by granting grants to school districts and food banks, advocating for funding and public understanding of hunger, and identifying and involving families in nutrition programs.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a lot of rejection and flexibility,” Sanchez said.
She said all children receive free lunches at schools such as Windcrest, but those refusals expire on June 30th. From next year, families will have to apply for free or reduced meals. There are several requirements that families must meet to receive assistance.
Sanchez is worried about the ongoing pandemic, food and gas surges and supply chain problems, and many parents will still not be able to afford meal plans, even at reduced prices.
“So we really need that flexibility from these denials that only Congress can extend to the USDA,” Sanchez said.
No Kid Hungry Texas is not in the reach of politicians to push for this expansion.
Problems with rising prices and the supply chain are hitting schools hard.
Sanchez said schools order about 40 items at a time. Before the pandemic, perhaps three of them would not have appeared. Now there may be about half that are not available.
“They don’t get all the food they need. It’s at a higher price and they have to do a lot more with a lot less, “Sanchez said.
Miges keeps a basket of snacks in her classroom all the time in case her students need them.
“I’m just trying to support that and make sure they know they’re fed and loved here,” she said.
Mig hopes that schools will be able to continue the same level of support in the next school year.
As the mother of a student, she would like the free meals to continue, but she knows that for other families this is an absolute necessity.
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“Some parents can’t feed their children right now.” Teacher says school food programs are crucial
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