Thursday, March 26, 2009

With Mom and Dad Downsized, Texas Kids Suffer

The sinking economy isn't just affecting the Texas workforce - it's also affecting their children. 

According to the state, the number of Texas children qualifying for federally subsidized school lunches jumped 5% in the last year. Many more recently unemployed parents may be unaware of the program. 

“Schools absolutely should be more proactive about it,” said Celia Hagert, a senior policy analyst with the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities. “That could be a big boost for a family. If they’re struggling and can get breakfast and lunch for free, that’s a huge weight off their shoulders.”

Officials are also seeing an increase in the number of homeless children. Over 300,000 Texas children are currently homeless - more than any other state.  "We are literally seeing our future generations living on the streets," said Amarillo food banker Zack Wilson.

Families with children will receive a small measure of relief in April, when federal stimulus funds increase the average SNAP/food stamps allotment by $38. Efforts are ongoing to create a new program to feed children healthy foods after school and on weekends - see how you can help!

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