TYLER, Texas (KLTV) — Schools in East Texas are winding down, and for families financially reliant on free school meals, budgeting can become a challenge. Inflation has only made it more difficult to feed families.

The East Texas Food Bank will help families in times of inflation with the annual East Texas Food Bank Summer Food Program.

The summer food program fills the void that children have when they do not have access to school meals.

“Families with kids who qualify for free and reduced lunches are really depending on it for their budget to fill their kids’ stomachs,” CEO Dennis Cullinane said.

Students can go to any of the sites and eat breakfast and lunch for free.

“There in places where we know children are economically disadvantaged and lack resources,” Cullinane said.

Cullinane said the program is essential this year due to inflation.

In March, East Texas Food Bank saw the most households served by food pantries. March is also most spring break at schools, when families don’t have the opportunity to eat free at school.

“It indicates that families are under a lot of pressure and there has been a lot of inflation with grocery prices,” Cullinane said.

According to the USDA, the home consumer price index rose 1.3% from March 2022 to April 2022 and 10.8% from last April.

At a time when prices are rising and families need the food bank the most, Cullinane said donations are slowing down.

“If meal prices go up 10%, that’s the number of meals we lose in service unless we can make up for it with more generous donations,” Cullinane said.

UT Tyler marketing professor Dr. Kerri Camp attributes the price hike to the pandemic, which led to supply chain disruption and higher gas prices.

“As long as gas prices continue to rise, they expect that could still go up another 3-4% by the end of 2022, so I don’t think we’ve seen the end of inflation,” Camp said.

To find Summer Food Program locations and times, click here.

Copyright 2022 KLTV. All rights reserved.

About The Author

Related Posts