Some call summer the salad season because it is season of plenty. But that is not the case for those who find themselves trying to stretch their paychecks to cover bills and food. Local food banks say the summer season is another season of need for them and their clients.
With school out for the summer, many parents have to take on the added responsibility of feeding and taking care of children during the day. Nationwide, more than 20 million children take part in school lunch programs and over 10 million eat breakfast at school.
U.S. hunger relief organization Feeding America said “only 3.9 million receive free or reduced-price meals through the USDA Summer Food Service Program.” The organization said that gap of just one in six school-time participants getting food in the summer is the result of different factors, including insufficient program awareness, a limit of resources after schools close and a lack of access to meal sites.
However, the issue isn’t just related to children being out for the summer, as a report by Real Simple magazine found 15.6 million households in the U.S. suffer from food insecurity, based on 2016 data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.
A representative from MasterKey Ministries said it has two food pantries and both experience increases in use during the summer months.
“We have a Mobile Pantry at Harvest Time Church each Friday from (10 a.m. to noon),” MasterKey Food Coordinator Crystal Brooks said.
She said at that pantry, they give out fresh produce and bread. She also said Ruiz Foods donates Mexican food products each week for this pantry. This mobile pantry is for all Grayson County residents who are in need.
“Everyone is welcome to come each Friday,” Brooks said.
Brooks said in addition to the mobile pantry, MasterKey Ministries has a food bank at its location, 209 Heritage Pkwy in Sherman, for Sherman residents that is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. It is a client’s choice pantry, Brooks said, which means people can pick the food that they need to help them stretch their meal plans. She said residents can use that pantry once a month. The immediate need for donations from that pantry, she said, is soups, chili, canned pasta, fruits and all types of cereal.
At the Grayson County Shelter, Volunteer Coordinator Kari McFarland said the shelter sees more families and single adults as the temperatures heat up outside. She said for now, the shelter is in need of “water, lunch meat, cheese, paper products, milk and snacks for kiddos.”
Over at the Salvation Army’s food pantry in Sherman, the administration was also feeling the pinch of need.
“Right now the pantry is in desperate need of things like pastas, rice, beans, tomato sauces, canned fruits, peanut butter, jelly, etc.,” Major Tex Ellis said via a social media message.