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Summer Food Service Program Offers Free Healthy Meals

The Summer Food Service Program offers places nearby where families can go for a free, nutritious meal during the months when school is out.

Parents in San Mateo County now have a place to take their kids for a healthy lunch, even though school is out for the summer.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson this week announced the debut of a new website and toll-free phone number where disadvantaged families can find meal sites near them, as part of the California Department of Education's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

“When school is closed for the summer, many low-income children don’t have access to the nutritious and free or inexpensive meals usually offered during the school year,” said Torlakson. “I encourage families to go to the hundreds of summer meal sites already open throughout the state to ensure their kids get the proper nutrition needed to help them develop properly and be ready to learn when they return to school.”

The SFSP serves free meals to children in geographic areas where at least 50 percent of students are eligible to receive free or reduced-price school meals. The programs may also operate activities for children, Torlakson explained.

SFSP reimburses agencies that serve nutritious meals to children 18 years and younger during school vacation. The program benefits all children in accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, and is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

SFSP operates when schools in the community are on vacation for at least 15 continuous school days, or when year-round schools are not in session. Non-school sponsors may also serve snacks to children after school under SFSP.

Eligible sponsors and locations may include schools, camps, Indian tribal governments, private nonprofit agencies, and municipal, state, county, or local government offices. Sponsors may prepare meals or obtain meals from another SFSP sponsor, public or commercial food vendor, or a school food service department.

All meals must meet the USDA minimum meal guidelines. Meals must follow a specified plan that includes milk, fruits, vegetables or juice, grain products, and meat or meat alternative. Meals may include breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack.

WHERE TO GO

Half Moon Bay:

Coastside Childhood Development Center, 565 Redondo Beach Road, Half Moon Bay, 650-726-7416. This children who are currently enrolled in the program receive free meals all summer long. "More than 50 percent of the children we serve are low income," said director Karen Corzine. "We provide meals for them all year, including the summer when most children are out of school."

Institutue for Human & Social Development, Moonridge Child Development Center, 2001 Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay, 650-246-1724.

San Mateo:

Children's Empowerment Inc., In the San Mateo Clubhouse, 200 N. Quebec St., San Mateo, 650-347-9891. Lunch and Afternoon Snacks, June 11 - Aug. 3, 2012.

To see a list of sites throughout San Mateo County, or statewide, visit the 2012 Summer Sites website.

Those without access to a computer or the Internet can call the Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3HUNGRY (1-866-348-6479) for assistance.

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