HOUSTON (KTRK) --HISD kicks off its free summer food service program today. Several school districts and charities are teaming up to provide children with free meals during the summer.
"They like the blueberry pancakes and the OJ and milk is the first thing that goes," said Taekwondo camp leader John Buzo. "It's the most important meal of the day, for any child the most important meal."
Buzo brings little ones every day before their summer camp, making sure they've got their strength.
"You'll see a student that eats and a student that doesn't eat. The activity level is completely different. One is active and the other is dragging," Buzo said.
These, though, are the lucky ones. Thousands of children across Houston, for whatever reason, don't get the chance to fill up.
"If children are hungry, they are not going to be able to sit down and focus and learn in the classroom," said Jo Ellen Collin with the USDA.
The numbers reveal many don't take advantage of this program. The USDA reports in 2013 more than 2.5 million kids received free or reduced meals across the nation, but less than nine percent ate at schools during the summer.
"That's a lot of children at risk," Collin said.
Which is why the Texas Hunger Initiative wants parents to know this program exists for every youngster.
"No cost, no questions asked. No documentation, just show up and meals are served free to every child 18 years and younger," said Collin.
Giving these children basic nutrition many others take for granted.
"It's really good that the food is here," said Buzo.
The summer meals on campuses like this one are completely free. If you want to find out where they are in your community head to Summerfood.org or call 211, they will point you in the right direction.