In a number of small, unincorporated Texas towns, kids rely on free lunch programs at the local community center when school’s out.
Federally funded meal programs provide the free lunches for their students off the clock, but, according to the Texas Tribune, rates of participants are still declining.
Last year, for example, the rate of enrollment in the Texas Department of Agriculture’s summer meals program fell by 20 percent.
The reason? All signs point to a lack of transportation to and from meal sites.
While the federal government does provide money to schools and nonprofits for free lunches, it doesn’t cover the cost of travel to and from those places, largely leaving the work to volunteers who live in these areas, but are often willing to help the organizations providing the benefit with pick-up and drop-off of the needy kids.
As described in the Tribune article, Clara Crawford, 86, drives her old cargo van to pick up children in the unincorporated East Texas communities of Fairview and Reklaw, taking them to the community center where she works.
There, the kids can get a free lunch, play some basketball and get out of the Texas heat.
According to the Tribune, people like Crawford offer a valuable lifeline to kids who would otherwise be left at home, sometimes by themselves, with no food.