For the 18th year, the city of Amarillo's community development department and the Amarillo Independent School District will provide meals for children during the summer months.
The Summer Lunch Program, funded by the Texas Department of Agriculture, addresses child hunger, which program coordinator Kathryn Foster said can affect children's development.
The program already has tens of sites and the city is seeking the help of nonprofit groups, churches and businesses to establish additional locations.
"This is one of our most valued programs with the city and one we take a lot of pride in – with our relationship with AISD – because there are a lot of kids in our community who rely on that meal during the school year. For many, this may be the only healthy meal they receive during the day depending on their situation," Foster said. "The purpose of our summer lunch program is to bridge that gap as best we can to give them an option to receive a healthy meal."
The program served more than 63,000 meals in 2016. The city needs community sites that can serve at least 10 children per day, with at least two adults who can supervise kids during meal times.
There aren't any costs involved for organizations and businesses offering meal sites, Foster said. AISD cafeteria staff prepare and deliver the meals. Before approval as a lunch location, Texas Department of Agriculture representatives will visit to verify each new location.
Foster said the goal is to ensure there's an adequate coverage of areas where at least 51 percent of children receive free or reduced lunch. Across AISD, 69 percent of students are elegible for free and reduced lunches.
The program runs between June 5 and Aug. 11. To find out how a group or business can establish a Summer Lunch Program site, contact Kathryn Foster at (806) 378-3005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.