San Diego

Program offers San Diego children meals for free this summer

The program runs through Aug. 2. All children are eligible without any registration requirements or forms to complete

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Hungry children across the city of San Diego will have more options for meals during the summer months thanks to a joint effort announced Friday between the San Diego Unified School District and the city's libraries, parks and other community hubs.

This summer, schools, YMCAs, military sites, public libraries, parks and recreation centers and other neighborhood organizations will become meal and nutrition hubs. The sites will offer free breakfast and lunch to children and teens along with nutrition education resources, reading activities for children, and food benefits for families to purchase groceries, according to city officials.

"When school is out for summer break, a large number of kids lose access to the healthy meals they rely on during the school year," said Alicia Pitrone Hauser, SDUSD's food and nutrition services director. "Summer meals ensure all children have consistent access to the nutrition they need to learn, play and grow -- and this makes children be better prepared to start another school year."

The program began Monday and runs through Aug. 2. All children -- not just SDUSD students -- are eligible without any registration requirements or forms to complete.

"Public libraries are neighborhood hubs, and the San Diego Public Library is proud to work with our partners to bring these much-needed food resources to the community," San Diego Public Library Director Misty Jones said. "SDPL meal sites will hold free programs, activities, storytimes and shows around lunchtime, nourishing children's minds and bodies and providing vital information for their parents and caregivers."

The Feeding San Diego School Pantry Program will also offer fresh produce and pantry items at 30 sites this summer in partnership with school districts, recreation centers and libraries across the county, according to the organization.

"Summer can be the hungriest time of year for families experiencing food insecurity," said Bob Kamensky, CEO of Feeding San Diego. "Our summer meal programs aim to get nutritious food out into the community where it's needed most."

Additionally, the new California SUN Bucks program is helping families buy food during the summer break. Families will receive $40 per month for each eligible child to buy groceries for June, July and August. The funds come on a card mailed to a family's home and can be used like a debit card to buy healthy food at grocery stores, farmers markets and other places that accept CalFresh EBT benefits.

For a complete list of summer meal locations and hours, click here. To find food distributions hosted by Feeding San Diego, click here.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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