San Marcos students who normally receive their primary meals at school during the year have the opportunity to receive free breakfast and lunch this summer with a feeding program put on by the school district.
From June 9 to August 15, the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District’s Summer Feeding Program and the Purple Bus Mobile Meals will be serving free breakfast and lunch to San Marcos students 18 years old and younger Monday through Friday at locations throughout the community.
“We’re feeding kids who might not eat at all,” said Mike Boone, associate director of SMCISD Child Nutrition Services. “Even though it’s summer time and just because they don’t have school to eat doesn’t mean they’re not hungry. This is the future of our country and children need food in their bellies to learn and to be healthy.”
There is no application or requirement for children to be eligible to receive the free meals. Adults can purchase meal trays for themselves for $3.
The program has been going on for about three years, and this summer the SMCISD feeding program is distributing food at a total of 13 sites, Boone said. The feeding program reaches many children and distributes up to 100 meals a day, he said.
In addition to the stationary feeding sites at local schools, the Purple Bus Mobile Meals reaches and distributes meals to children who do not live close to campuses.
“We got an old bus, painted it purple, redid the windows, got air conditioning and put a radio in it,” Boone said. “If the kids can’t come to us then we’ll go to them.”
Almost 74 percent of children in SMCISD receive free or reduced meals because the families are economically disadvantaged, Boone said.
Boone said he encounters many people while visiting the sites and remembers a story of one moving encounter with a family.
“While at the site, we met a woman who was there with her three kids,” Boone said. “This woman once told us, ‘We don’t have a car and times are tough. If you guys didn’t come out here with the bus, some days, I don’t know how we would feed these kids.’”
Serving locations for breakfast and lunch include San Marcos High School, Bowie Elementary School, Crockett Elementary and Travis Elementary. Lunch is served at additional city locations including the San Marcos Public Library, Rio Vista Park Pavilion, Redwood Baptist Church, Martindale Three Rivers Church, Allen Wood Housing and the CM Allen Housing.
The Purple Bus Mobile Meals delivers lunch to sites including Morning Wood Neighborhood at 10:30 a.m., Regency Mobile Home Park at 11:15 a.m., Riverview Apartments at 12 p.m. and Cuauhtemoc Hall Parking Lot at 12:45 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Mayor Daniel Guerrero said he has visited the feeding sites and is a supporter of the program.
“This is an opportunity to make sure that the children are being fed,” Guerrero said. “Whenever the purple bus comes into a community, the children are already accustomed to seeing it there, and you see a lot of smiles and appreciative kids and parents.”
SMCISD Superintendent Mark Eads said children receiving meals can participate in summer activities. Local church groups visit the feeding sites and have playtime with the children in between mealtimes, he said.
“Truthfully, I don’t think that people realize the magnitude of poverty and the kids that don’t have the opportunity to be fed on a daily basis here in San Marcos,” Eads said. “The children get an opportunity to get fed and get exposed to role models.”