Monday, 26 February 2024

Summer Food Service Program seeks to help families, community

LOWER LAKE – Local families are benefiting from a program that focuses on supplying children with nutritious food during the months they're out of school.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Summer Food Service Program is the single largest federal resource available for schools and local organizations that want to combine a feeding program with a summer activity program for children and their families – and the more people that take advantage of it, the better it is for the entire community.


During the school year, meals are available for children through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, but those programs end when school ends for the summer and many children face food insecurity – in other words, lack of meals or nutritious meals – during the summer months.


Konocti, Kelseyville and Middletown unified school districts are participating in this federally-funded program.


“It’s more than just a meal,” said Marla Peterson, Konocti Unified's food service director.


Peterson explained that the Summer Food Service Program provides a social outlet in the summer for youth and families to share quality time together without spending money, as well as provides an opportunity for KUSD to extend their services and deepen their connections to the community.


KUSD is participating in the USDA Summer Food Service program this year and is offering free breakfast and lunch to all youth up to age 18, and adults accompanying children may purchase a meal for $1.50.


Participation in the program helps families to fill the hunger gap so children and their families do not need to go hungry during the summer, said Peterson.


“And at the end of the month,” Peterson said, “families may even have extra money to do other positive activities together,” that they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise – or would have had to scrimp on meals to do so.


KUSD is able to provide this program at no cost all students, regardless of family income, and the more youth and adults that participate in the program, the more funding the program receives, thereby ensuring it can serve more youth and families nutritious and economical food.


So far, KUSD has provided 600 to 700 meals per day to youth and the adults that accompany them, which includes serving some locally-grown produce from Irene Farms in Lower Lake, Leonardis Organics in Lakeport and Seely’s Farm Stand in Upper Lake.


All children are welcome to participate in this program; no proof of age or income verification is required. Everyone up to 18 years of age will be given free meals at breakfast and lunch. Adults accompanying children may purchase a meal for $1.50 per adult.


Because the lunches are served picnic-style, many families grab their lunches and head to area parks to play and enjoy a meal together, Peterson explained.


“Families come together, and they’re able to have quality family time together,” she said.


Recently, an excited line of children formed to receive their lunches – it was the place to be on a hot summer afternoon – with the adults standing off to the side.


After the children had received their lunches, Konocti Unified staff invited one older woman over to receive a lunch. The woman, who explained that she was caring for her grandchildren over the summer while their parents were at work, hugged the staff and told them that she didn’t know how she would have made ends meet if it weren’t for this program.


“We’re willing to go the extra mile,” Peterson said, not only of the food service staff, but of the entire Konocti Unified staff. “We’ve had great support from the whole district, from teachers to IT to administration.”


Another parent admitted that they didn’t need the assistance, but that their children wanted to be where their friends were, so they came to receive a lunch and join in the festive family atmosphere.


Because the program is available to all families in Lake County – regardless of income – participating youth and adults do not have to worry about being labeled, and everyone can enjoy the nutritious breakfasts and picnic-styled lunches.


To receive free meals for students and discounted meals for adults 18 and over, visit:


  • Burns Valley Elementary School, 3620 Pine Av., Clearlake;

  • East Lake Elementary School, 13050 High Valley Road, Clearlake Oaks;

  • Lower Lake Elementary School, 9240 Lake St., Lower Lake (call 707-994-4543, Extension 3211, as the exact location may change with the change in the regularly scheduled daytime activity).


Breakfast is served between 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. and lunch is served between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, throughout the summer break.


For more information, contact Marla Peterson at 707-994-4543, Extension 3211; for Spanish, call Lily Olivares, 707-994-4710, Extension 3214.


For informational brochures, printable flyers, and a public service announcement video that is being aired bilingually on TV8, visit the KUSD Summer Feeding Program Web site at www.konoctiusd.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=dep_menu&menu_id=5038&dept_id=11 .


E-mail Terre Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


 

 

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