Schools offer free lunches during summer

June 15, 2009 7:22:40 PM PDT
School is out for the summer. There may be no more homework, but for too many kids summer also means no more balanced meals. That is why dozens of closed schools throughout the Bay Area opened their cafeterias Monday, offering free lunches to neighborhood kids throughout the summer.

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The kids might have been happier if pizza was on the menu rather than a bologna sandwich, but it is free and that is what counts.

"We're suspecting that this year's going to be really busy for the lunch program," Gilbert Gong said. Gong runs a recreation center in Chinatown which will feed as many as 200 children a day from around the city.

Schools and recreation centers around Oakland opened their doors to children on summer vacation Monday, offering a free lunch to anyone under the age of 18 who needs one.

Last summer they served 75,000 free lunches in Oakland; this year demand is up, so they have expanded to 50 locations.

"Since the kids are out of school, they don't have an option for a place to go, a safe place to hang out during the summer time, a place to have a meal; we'll provide a nutritious lunch for them," Gong said.

Hotline workers at the Alameda County Food Bank are answering calls from parents who want to know where their children can go for the free meal.

Most of the children in the Bay Area who are eligible for the free summer lunches are not taking advantage of them. Last summer 170,000 kids who could have had free lunch, did not.

"There are many sites around the bay area that are open during the summer where a child can go without registering, just show up and have a healthy lunch," Alameda County Community Food Bank Executive Director Suzan Bateson said.

LINK: Summer Food Service Program for kids

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