Organizers are currently preparing meals for about 2,000 children a week at close to 40 sites throughout the 18 counties served by the Houston Food Bank.
During the school year, many children who rely on free or reduced-price lunches go home to meager or no meals on weekends. The Houston Food Bank's Backpack Buddy program works to fill that gap, sending children at participating schools and other locations home every Friday with a backpack full of nonperishable, vitamin-fortified, child-friendly food.
But what happens during summer break?
"Parents are often working, leaving kids at home, maybe with a package of Ramen noodles," said Ann Svendsen-Sanchez, director of outreach services for the Houston Food Bank. "Families' resources are even less during the summer because parents have to provide every single meal, and sometimes that's difficult."
The Backpack Buddy program provides lunches every Friday to anyone age 18 or younger -- no questions asked.
"All they have to do is show up and they get a free lunch," Svendsen-Sanchez said. "We don't even ask for their name."
With Houston ISD and the Houston Parks and Recreation Department also offering free lunches this summer, the Houston Food Bank is focusing primarily on rural areas outside the inner city.
"Kids in the rural counties are hardest to reach. They have the need, but help isn't easily accessible a lot of the time, so we take this program out to them," Svendsen-Sanchez said.
The Backpack Buddy program will run at most sites through the second week in August. Call 411 to find a location near you.
Donations are always accepted. For more information and a list of food items needed, visit www.houstonfoodbank.org.
Below is a list of some feeding locations. To find one near you, call 411 or 713-223-3700.
- Brookshire Boys & Girls Club - 4010 4th Street, Brookshire
- Meadow Creek Apartments - 6416 York Meadows, Houston
- The King's Palace - 5371 E. 5th Street, Katy
- Morefield Boys & Girls Club - 5950 Selinsky, Houston
- Spring Branch Boys & Girls Club - 8575 Pitner Road, Houston
- James Driver Park Boys & Girls Club - 10918 ½ Bentley, Houston
- Finnigan Park Boys & Girls Club - 4900 Providence Bldg. C, Houston
- Millstone Apartments - 23405 West Fernhurst Drive, Katy
- Holthouse Boys & Girls Club - 2411 Canal, Houston
- Havard Boys & Girls Club - 1520 Airline Drive, Houston
- Mitchell Boys & Girls Club - 4420 Avenue P., Galveston
- Lancaster Apartments - 20100 Park Row, Katy
- The Mint Resource Center - 6700 South Dairy Ashford #409, Houston
- South Union - 7641 South Freeway Suite A, Houston
- Village at Uvalde - 250 Uvalde Road, Houston
- Living Faith Outreach - 3700 Deats, Dickinson
- Jones Memorial Methodist Church 2540 - Almeda-Genoa, Houston
- Target Hunger - 2814 Quitman, Houston
- Lakecrest Village Apartments - 9393 Tidwell, Houston
- Lincoln Park Community Center - 979 Grenshaw, Houston
- Boynton Chapel - 2812 Milby, Houston
- South Houston High School - 3820 South Shaver, South Houston
- Villas at Pine Lake Apartments - 5301 North Sam Houston Parkway, Houston
- Tall Timbers - 13155 Woodforest, Houston
- Wesley Community Center - 1410 Lee Street, Houston
- Fifth Ward - 4014 Market Street, Houston
- IMPACT Houston - 1712 Depelchin, Houston
- Tellepsen YMCA - 808 Pease Street, Houston
- Costa Ibiza Apartments - 17217 Hafer Road, Houston
- Woodsedge Food Pantry - 25333 Gosling Road, Spring
- The IMPACT Community Center - 17835 Hufsmith-Kohrville Road, Tomball
- NAM - 15555 Kuykendahl, Houston
- The Villages of Huntsville - 145 Essex Boulevard, Huntsville