As a private nonprofit, Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) collects and distributes more than 2 million meals worth of donated food each month to charities serving hungry families in Fort Worth and 13 surrounding counties. Each month, these partner charities serve more than 308,000 meals on their sites and distribute emergency groceries to 47,000 families. For low-income households, TAFB also offers feeding programs for children and seniors, nutrition education, culinary job training, and community gardening expertise.
Of individuals served by the TAFB network of partner charities, 40 percent are children. In Texas, 2.8 million kiddos, qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, while 1 of 4 children live in a household that doesn’t always have sufficient resources to provide food for the next meal. So this begs the question, how do these kids receive nourishment during the summer months?
The Tarrant Area Food Bank’s Summer Food Service Program tackles this issue. During the summer, Tarrant Area Food Bank’s summer meals program provides breakfast and/or lunch in group settings for children 18 years old and younger (at Summer Food Service Program sites), and in conjunction with these group meals provides Summer Packs of non-perishable, kid-friendly foods for the weekend.
Andrea K. Helms, director of communications/marketing at TAFB explained:
According to projections thus far, the Tarrant Area Food Bank Summer Food Service Program of meals and the TAFB Summer Packs of weekend food passed out each Friday to children at meal sites will have fed a total of about 1,300 to 1,500 children by the end of August. Some will have been fed at sites that provided a meal and a weekend pack of food every week from mid-June through August, and other will have attended programs that ran for only month or even just one or two weeks.
There are no income or registration requirements at any of these feeding sites. Any child under age 18 may come to eat. Meals will be provided to all children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability, and there will be no discrimination during the course of the meal service. For a complete list of these sites, click here. (Contact Sarah Centeno, [email protected] for more information.)
In addition, during the summer, the TAFB Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) offers fresh produce at farmers markets set up on designated dates at five different WIC clinics in Arlington, Fort Worth, and Haltom City. This program is administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture, which provides vouchers to WIC mothers to exchange for produce for themselves and their young children.
The TAFB summer meals program needs volunteers at feeding site to help distribute meals and provide enrichment activities indoors and outdoor. Help is also needed in spreading the word about the program and the locations of feeding sites–only 11.9 percent of eligible students participate in the Summer Food Service Program. The TAFB FMNP at WIC clinics also needs volunteers who can help distribute fresh produce at the markets. To volunteer for any of the summer feeding programs, contact Robyn Morgan at [email protected] or phone 817-332-9177, ext 151.
Those wishing to support TAFB can register–starting July 14, 2014–for the TAFB Ride for Kids event held on October 25, 2014. This fundraiser will benefit TAFB’s Food for Kids programs, including future summer meals program. You can learn more about this event and all things TAFB by visiting www.tafb.org and/or following the organization on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.