The East Texas Food Bank’s Summer Food Program, staffed with the help of the City of Tyler, may be at risk after budget and staffing cuts. The program provides nutritious meals for kids ages 1-18 with more than 70 sites throughout East Texas.
The summer food program has been up and running for twelve years now - and those at the bank say the quality is at risk.
"The lack of funding - the funding constraints that the city has had is really restricting them from the partnership we've enjoyed over the years,” said East Texas Food Bank CEO Dennis Cullinane.
The food bank doesn't receive funding from the city - and it never has - but budget cuts meant staffing cuts. That's man power the food bank has relied on for more than a decade.
"The reason this program has been so successful is because the City of Tyler has provided staffing to give activities to the kids," said Child Hunger Program Coordinator Tim Butler.
He says three big city park locations - Pollard Park, City Park and Emmett Scott - are highly at risk because of the locations.
"The nearest elementary schools to some of the park sites - 95 percent qualify for the national school lunch program. There's a proven need in these neighborhoods," Butler said. "That's about as high as it gets. Ceiling is 100 percent."
CBS19 received a statement from the city's parks department. It reads:
“Due to declining sales tax revenue, the City of Tyler Parks Department will be unable to hold the Summer Playground program at park sites. The department will continue to hold summer day camp at the Glass Recreation Center. We support the East Texas Food Bank’s efforts to coordinate supervision, meal service and activities at these public park sites and hope to see community members stepping in to fill this need.”
It's something those at the food bank hope to see, too.
"We're really asking the public to help us make that commitment and come out to the parks, and give the kids some supervision, and help us have some fun with this," Cullinane said.
If you, your church, or organization would like to help, call Butter at the East Texas Food Bank at 903-617-2046 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.