Almost 30 percent of Texas families report difficulty affording food. Compared to the rest of the states, Texas and Mississippi have the highest rate of child food insecurity according to a report by Feeding America. Food insecurity can be defined as not knowing where your next meal will come from. At the same time, Texan children face another growing crisis of obesity. The Center for Public Policy Priorities has found that obesity rates have doubled among children and tripled among adolescents the past 20 years. In addition, Feeding America notes that roughly 33 percent of children (10-17) in Texas are overweight or obese.
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) supported by the Texas Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is one way get resources to address these issues and help children lead a healthier lifestyle. Children in underserved communities are most at risk during the summer months for both obesity and childhood food insecurity.
By participating in a local summer feeding program, you and your congregation can help provide healthy food at this critical time when children are most vulnerable. An effective summer food program not only provides nutritious meals, but it can also teach children about proper nutrition, encourage outdoor play, and provide important food skills such as growing and healthy food preparations.
Summer food programs are an opportunity to provide nutritious meals to children who need it most during the summer. They not only addresses the related issues of hunger and obesity, but also can provide safe access to nature and outdoor recreational opportunities. By participating in a summer feeding program, congregations and community organizations play a significant role in promoting healthy communities and securing the health of future generations. To learn more about each of these aspects, download the Summer Food Service Program Toolkit or learn more about levels of involvement.
Hunger, or more accurately inadequate nutrition, is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process. Children suffering from hunger and food insecurity are especially at risk of not performing to the best of their potential in school. Hunger also prevents children from maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well—making them more prone to illness and other health issues. Texas children also face one of the nation’s highest rates of obesity. While providing food is necessary, it is important to provide the right types of healthy foods.