Families donít have to have children preparing to go to school to take advantage of this weekendís exemption of state and local sales taxes on eligible purchases. With price pressures hitting households from almost every direction, itís not just those with low incomes who are inspired to hunt for bargains. Almost everyone seeks out the best deal.

In recent years, the costs of gasoline and utilities have been pushing upward. Now, putting food on the table is becoming more expensive.

Prices of basics like milk and fruit are going up dramatically. Many low-income Americans have to make difficult choices, but most of them have little room in their budget for adjustments. That makes it even more difficult for poor working parents to feed their families nutritious meals.

While the Labor Department reported that food prices rose by 4.1 percent for the year ending in June, the prices for many essentials for good health rose even higher. Whole milk was up more than 13 percent, for example, and the price of eggs rose by almost 20 percent.

The food stamp program is a vital lifeline for many families, but as prices rise, benefits donít stretch as far as they once did. Many families turn to food banks, such as those operated locally by Good Samaritan Ministries and several churches.

These operations often receive strong community support during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, but too many people go hungry throughout the rest of the year.

With the start of school, a large segment of the population with children will again have access to free or reduced-price lunches on campus. That has become an important component to the health and well-being of our nationís young people. Supporting a food bank of your choice is a way to supplement that.

Brownwood Bulletin