DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There is a fresh reminder, today, that hunger never takes a holiday.
Although DISD is on spring break this week, staffers will provide activities and free, hot meals through Thursday at 25 schools around the district. The reason is both obvious and perhaps hard to hear.
“Some of them wouldn’t have a meal, if we didn’t do this for them,” says Ruth Lara at Herbert Marcus Elementary in North Dallas. “Here, I feel like we’re giving these families hope.”
The effort to provide students hot meals during school breaks started several years back as a pilot program in South Dallas.
“Some of our cafeteria staff had told us that there were students in their community that didn’t have any food, and they actually came to their house asking if they had any food they could share with them,” says Alison Idris with DISD. “And we decided right then and there, that we have food and there’s no reason that any of our students should be going hungry because the district’s on break.”
In the face of still daunting child poverty rates in North Texas, there is progress, experts say in even small things.
According to the most recent Children’s Health Beyond ABC report (a comprehensive, bi-annual look at child welfare in Dallas, Denton, Collin, Grayson, Fannin and Cooke counties); 1 in every 5 children in North Texas lives in poverty, some 260,000 are considered food insecure, and those living in poverty are 7 times more likely to be in poor or fair health.
“Yes, in this very affluent community,” says Cristal Retana, a community relations manager with Children’s Health, “and we just can’t ignore that and we can’t keep ignoring that.”
The Beyond ABC report, released in the fall, measures four powerful indicators: pediatric health care, economic security, safety and education.
“All of those really affect the success of a child in their everyday life,” says Retana. “We need to really work together, come together as a community to tackle these issues. It may not be your child that’s food insecure; but, it may be the child next to you.”