Pandemic Prompts Early Start to Summer Free Meal Delivery Program

CitySquare Food is helping fill the hunger gap for Dallas I.S.D. students

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Three days a week, volunteers pack vans with boxes of ready-to-eat meals in the back lot of CitySquare in Dallas.

"Poverty is hard work," Ty Younce of CitySquare said. "We're seeing that living in a pandemic is hard work, too."

CitySquare Food launched its mobile meal program early this year. Usually, it's a summer program to help fill the hunger gap left when students are away from school.

"Without this food program many low-income families would go hungry," CitySquare President John Siburt said. "Many low income working people would have hard choices to make about how to feed their kids or keep the lights on."

The program helps fill the hunger gap. In Dallas ISD, 89% of students are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

"I personally think that we're all getting a taste of what it's like to live in poverty," Younce said as they set up a distribution site at Frazier Fellowship, 10 minutes east of downtown Dallas. "When you're feeding your kids two extra times a day, plus snacks all day, and your bills are going up because everybody's home all day, your budget gets tighter no matter what that budget is."

The line to get free meals formed before the CitySquare volunteers had their tables set up and ready to go. Most of those in line were children.

"That tells me we're doing something right," Younce said. "If the kids are excited to come out and see us then we're doing what we're supposed to be doing."

The giveaways happen three days a week, at three separate locations. So far, CitySquare has given away 50,000 meals during the pandemic through the mobile program.

"It makes me joyful," Brenda Higgins said as she picked up food with her three granddaughters.

"We've had a pandemic of poverty for a long time and we can all do something to make that go away," Younce said. "We make the world a better place."

CitySquare partners with PepsiCo Food for Good to put on the program, which is primarily funded by the USDA through the Texas Department of Agriculture.

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