ABILENE, Texas — In 2018, the Abilene Hunger Coalition initiated a pilot program - "Abilene Kids Eat Free."
Approximately 70 percent of students in the Abilene Independent School District are eligible for the free or reduced breakfast and lunch program. To keep students fed during the summer, the district provided free meals for the months of June and July.
This leaves children without meals for about three weeks before school starts, that’s where the coalition comes in.
"We're just not feeding children, although that is our goal to try to get as many children as possible, we will not turn down anybody,” Abilene Hunger Coalition chair, Becky Almanza said.
Last summer, with only three feeding sites across the city, the program helped feed more than 700 people. This year, they surpassed that number within the first week of serving.
"Just the first week alone we met basically our goal to kind of try and reach that same number children and increase it, so we haven't even counted the second and third weeks,” Almanza said.
Each site is sponsored by a local organization and is responsible for their cooking, serving and clean-up team.