Summer Meals Program supplies reduced-price lunches to kids in the Summer months
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – More than a quarter million children in San Diego depend on free and reduced-price lunches so they can eat during the school year. But what happens to those children when school’s out for the Summer?
Paloma Perez Bertrand, the Director of “Hunger Free Kids” with the San Diego Hunger Coalition.
The Summer Meals Program is officially called the Summer Food Service Program. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it provides free, nutritious meals and snacks to ensure children and teenagers under the age of 18 do not go hungry during the summer months, when school meals are not available.
Unfortunately, in San Diego County, only 1 in 10 children enrolled free or reduced price school lunch get to enjoy meals through the summer meals program.
Low participation in summer meal programs happens for a variety of reasons, such as lack of awareness or a lack of nearby sites (which is particularly an issue in rural areas). When children don’t get proper nutrition, they fall behind their peers academically when returning to school in the fall. Summer meals are often the driving factor in children participating in a summer program. When summer meals are available, kids are more likely to participate in programming that can provide additional learning opportunities.
Plus, Summer meals follow USDA nutrition guidelines. They can be served hot or cold, and because summer is a time when produce not usually available during the school year is in season, it’s a great opportunity to integrate local fruits and vegetables into these meals.
You can help spread the word about FREE summer meal sites in San Diego County. Kids and teens in your neighborhood can get a healthy, delicious meal and have a free, safe place to hang out with their friends. TO FIND A FREE SUMMER MEAL SITE NEAR YOU TEXT the word “FOOD” OR “COMIDA” TO 877-877.