Year round, the South Austin Recreation Center is bustling with kids around the neighborhood hanging out, playing and getting help with their homework.
When kids are done with school, they know that they can come here to socialize, but more importantly get a meal before heading home. The center is only one of the Food Bank’s many children’s food distribution sites.
After working six years with the city of Austin and working at other recreation centers, Sarah, the site coordinator, has seen food insecurity affect kids all around Austin.
“I started with Rosewood Recreation Center on the east side, just kind of a low income community, so it really helped. Those kids didn’t eat all day,” Sarah said.
Though the South Austin Rec Center is across town from the Rosewood Center, kids are still turning to the rec centers for a meal.
Elizabeth lives across from the South Austin Rec Center and every day after school she stops by. Her mom works three jobs to provide for her daughter. Thanks to the Food Bank, Elizabeth can go to the rec center to play and get a healthy meal made fresh in the Food Bank’s kitchen.
“Her mom works three jobs. Right after school she comes over and hangs out with us, she gets the meal…and I go home knowing she ate dinner tonight,” Sarah said.
After handing out the food, Sarah sees firsthand the difference having a meal makes on the kids. With a full stomach, kids like Elizabeth are happier and are able to better focus on their homework.
“I definitely think that they focus better. They’re happy, they’re socializing. Even if they take one bite of an apple, it’s like good, we did it, that’s why we’re here!” Sarah said. “The food just makes them happy.”
Whether it’s after school, the weekend or summer break, the Food Bank is always there to help kids in need. During the summer, kids can turn to the rec center for breakfast, lunch, snacks and an early dinner.
“The kids love it. The food’s really good. They really love the hot meals,” Sarah said.
There are nearly 450,000 people in Central Texas who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. One third of those are kids like Elizabeth. Despite our best efforts, we’re falling 30 percent short of keeping up with demand.
During Amplify Austin, you can help us close the meal gap in Central Texas for three months, providing much-needed meals to kids, working families, seniors, veterans and the disabled. But we can only do it with your help. No need to wait until the day of giving on February 28 to March 1. You can pre-schedule your gift now.