Our Opinion: Make it a tradition to give food

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, June 29, 2016

If you’re able, take a little extra food with you to the Fourth of July parade.

Like its done the last three years, Austin’s Salvation Army will have volunteers collecting non-perishable food for its food shelf during the Austin Freedom Fest parade, which is at 11 a.m. July 4 starting at City Hall, running along Fourth Avenue Northeast and south on Main Street to Bandshell Park.

Austin has a need for food. As we reported today, the Salvation Army food shelf serves anywhere from 300 to more than 400 families a month.

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The holiday giving season in November and December draws attention to food need, and the season sees many donations. Food shelves often hold drives in March to restock shelfs.

But food donations are traditionally lower in the summer. Kids are out of school, families are traveling, the weather is nice and local food needs are often out of mind.

But signs of local food needs are still prevalent. Last week, we reported a story from Austin Public Schools Food and Nutrition Director Mary Weikum where an Austin student was doing poor in class because he or she knew summer school would provide stable lunches over the summer.

That’s one reason the district is again offering free lunches and now breakfasts to students over the summer.

In fact, 57 percent of Austin students qualified for free and reduced lunches this past school year. And on Monday, the Austin Public Schools Board discussed how 10-cent increases in school lunch costs could tax families just outside the free and reduced lunch levels.

While school lunches and the Salvation Army food shelf aren’t necessarily connected, the two serve as a reminder that food can be expensive and many families live on limited budgets. That makes it all the more important to give whenever possible, no matter the season.

So grab some canned food or another food item to give to the Salvation Army this Fourth of July.