CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — According to the Coastal Bend Food Bank, one in four children in the state of Texas face food insecurity. That's why Corpus Christi Independent School District and the Coastal Bend Food Bank provide programs to ensure students can access meals after the bell rings.
“Children that go to bed hungry, probably are consumed with the though that they are hungry, and they shouldn’t. They should be able to play and to learn and to study and do homework just like other children," says Bea Hanson, the executive director for the Coastal Bend Food Bank.
The food bank has a "backpack program" in place that provides students with food for themselves and their families over the weekend. On Fridays they send children home with a bag full of groceries.
The backpack program has worked with 91 schools, and more have requested to be a part of it. They distributed 16,200 backpacks last year.
As for the weekdays, CCISD has its students covered for dinner. The district has an after-school supper program that is offered to all student up to age 18. Any student, whether or not they are food insecure is eligible.
The meals must be eaten on campus and they include a meat or meat alternative, milk, grain, vegetable, and fruit.
The dinners are a part of the Child and Adult Care Food Program which is federally funded. All of the meals CCISD schools provide are eligible for reimbursement.
“When we first started it was a little bit slower, but now that the campuses know about it, we often get requests for students to be able to participate in the feeding program after school," says Mary Boyd, CCISD Food Services Coordinator.
Boyd says the program has served over 12,000 meals at 32 campuses so far this school year. Now that the program is picking up they serve about 1,000 meals every day.
Boyd says providing dinners to children facing food insecurity is not the main priority of this program, but it is still a big part of it.
Since all students can receive the free dinners, they encourage anyone staying after school for clubs or enrichment activities to take advantage of the free meals.