Jada is an energetic 10-year-old who isn’t afraid of doing handstands. Unlike other kids who are excited about summer break, Jada isn’t sure about how she feels about it.
For her, school means that she is able to eat snacks and food — her favorite thing to do at school. During the school year she receives free breakfast and lunch and benefits from the Food Bank’s BackPack program, which supplies a bag of food to take home for the weekend.
Though she is the youngest of her siblings, she worries about not having enough food at home for all her family.
The soon-to-be fifth grader doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, but she has her mind set on earning money already.
“I just want to make money because I’m tired of feeling broke. Broke is not a good thing,” Jada said.
Things have been tough. For the past few months, Jada and her family have been living in a homeless shelter.
Though Jada is unsure about summer, she is happy about one thing: having a place to call home.
Her mom, Shanaria, has recently found a job that gives her the flexibility to take time off to take Jada to her weekly doctor appointments. The family is excited to get a fresh start with a new apartment, but summer has made it even more difficult to get back on their feet.
“The kids are home all day, the light bill is higher so any extra I had is either getting the light bill or getting food pretty much,” Shanaria said. “It’s the light bill that gets you the most every summer.”
With child care costs, increased utility bills and transportation costs, the family’s unfurnished apartment is the last of Shanaria’s worries. Without the school meals her three children get during the school year, Shanaria has been struggling to put a meal on her family’s table.
“That is the biggest struggle and that is why I have to get a job because they are home all day. She’s growing, all my kids are growing, and they eat a lot,” Shanaria said. “So I definitely need this job to be able to feed them. Food stamps are not enough. They’ve never been.”
To make it through the summer, Shanaria knows she can rely on the Food Bank’s pantries in Austin to bring food to her children.
“I’ve gone to the food pantries several times. You know there are plenty of them throughout Austin,” Shanaria said. “I have had to look into those resources several times. And so the food banks they have been a blessing. They really have…When the light bill is high especially in the summer time, you’re going to need something extra for food.”
Though the past months have been difficult, Shanaria is hopeful and positive. Her next step is to buy furniture for the new apartment. For now, she’s happy to have a roof over her children’s head.
Summer is tough for families like Shanaria’s, but you can help make a difference. We are raising 1 million Summer Meals That Matter to ensure that all Central Texans have a meal on their table. When you give during the summer, your donation will be matched. Help us reach our goal and double your impact on hunger.