BRYAN, Texas — A program that provides child nutrition waivers for many students across the country is set to expire on June 30 and will affect students in the Brazos Valley.
According to a report from NBC News, The Free School Meals for All program was put in place in March of 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, to assist children and families struggling with meeting nutrition standards
With the program set to expire before the next school year, Shannon Avila, the program's director for the Brazos Valley Food Bank, said that this decision will force families to look to other available resources.
“When the fall begins, that will be one less program for children and families that need it,” said Avila.
Avila, who previously worked in child abuse prevention, said she came to the Brazos Valley Food Bank to serve families struggling to get food on the table. According to Avila, the Brazos Valley Food Bank has seen roughly a 15% increase in families that have come to their facility for food assistance.
“A lot of the families haven’t fully recovered from the effects of the pandemic as it is and as prices increase, it’s putting extra pressure on families,” said Avila.
Ebony Knight, the operations director of Brazos Valley Food Bank, said that prices on many food items have risen for families. Their facility even had to pay more on several canned food items that go out to those in need.
“I can think of a couple of items where we were paying less than a dollar on items and we’re able to use our purchasing power to get a lower cost and now those are over $1 an item,” said Knight.
Knight said that small increases in prices on canned items can add up to thousands more than they were previously listed. The Brazos Valley Food Bank has offered many resources in the past, either directly or through partnerships, and has helped hundreds of people. The facility also has had many volunteers come through their facility to help make meals and pack backpacks for students.
“How we combat some of that child hunger is through the backpack program and with volunteers are coming in, throughout the year, in the summer to build those backpacks,” said Knight.
If you’d like to volunteer for the Brazos Valley Food Bank, you can click here.
Prior to the pandemic, the Director of No Kid Hungry partnerships said over 21 million students relied on free or reduced lunch each school day.