Herald/Steven Doll - Cody McDaniels is helped by Tammy Clark, program director of the Clements Boys & Girls Club, to put together a sack of food for the Summer Food Bag Program while at the center Thursday. The program helps provide food to children in need during summer weekends.

By Andy Ross

Killeen Daily Herald

Stressing that "hunger doesn't take a vacation," representatives from the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas and First Choice Power were in Killeen Thursday to announce a new partnership with the local Boys & Girls Club to provide free weekend meals over a 10-week period this summer.

The Summer Food Bag Program for the Boys & Girls Club in Killeen was made possible through a $10,000 grant from Irving-based First Choice Power.

With the funding, the CAFB of Texas is able to provide roughly 250 bags of food each weekend through the start of school in August.

Hank Perret, CAFB president and CEO, said Thursday that the battle against hunger always increases over summer months when families re-adjust to the added expense of feeding children no longer able to eat school meals. This summer is an especially critical time, he said.

"Food prices are up, gas prices are up and now with early heat wave, power bills are also up - so it's a confluence of stuff," Perret said.

Francie Charles, resources development director for Boys & Girls Club of Central Texas, said her organization has for a number of years sent children home each weekend during the regular school year with bags of snacks and food. During summer months, the resources for weekend food were not available. Although the Boys & Girls Club of Killeen does provide summer meals each Monday through Thursday as part of the Killeen Independent School District's meals program, this is the first year the organization can ensure many of its young members don't wait out the weekends hungry.

"The resources haven't been there to do summer bags of food, so when this became available, it was literally a godsend for us," Charles said.

Catherine Carlton, media relations manager for First Choice Power, said her company was striving to be "a part of the community" and contributing funds toward fighting hunger made sense.

"When we looked at how we can help those who are most in need, doing a program that helped with hunger was a real easy decision," Carlton said.

In addition to the partnership with CAFB of Texas, First Choice is partnering with five other food banks/pantries across the state to undertake similar summer food programs. During Thursday's announcement of the Summer Food Bag Program, Killeen Mayor Tim Hancock read a resolution authored by state Rep. Ralph Sheffield, R-Temple, that declared Thursday as Food First day.

Contact Andy Ross at aross@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7468. Follow him on Twitter at KDHeducation.

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