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Free meals address summer food insecurity
Summer Feeding Program
The Summer Food Service Program for Turlock students will run through July 19 at Columbia and Sunnyview parks for lunch only and Pitman High School for breakfast and lunch. - photo by Photo Contributed

Although the beginning of summer vacation is welcomed by students throughout Turlock Unified School District, it also consequently marks the beginning of months of food insecurity for many students who consider the campus cafeteria as their only source for a nutritious meal.

Knowing this, the district has been taking part in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, which ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session, for over 35 years.

“To a lot of children who have food insecurities during the school years, the school lunch program is the only way that they can get a nutritional meal,” said Child Nutrition Director Scott Soiseth. “When summer comes along, this program helps make sure that we are still able to feed them a healthy meal.”

Throughout the summer, children 18 years and under can visit any of the program’s summer feeding sites, where they will receive a free meal with fresh fruits and vegetables.

According to Soiseth, the program serves an average of 1,200 meals a day, culminating with approximately 25,000 meals by the end of summer. Nationwide, the program aims to serve more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years and under.

Thursday marks the last day that the program will be hosted at Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy, Cunningham Elementary and Crowell Elementary. However, the program will continue at Columbia Park, Sunnyview Park and John H. Pitman High School until July 19.

“This is a valuable program that addresses food insecurity and it is probably one of the best programs for our children,” said Soiseth. “It may provide them with the only meal they get that day.”

Breakfast is served from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. While both parks only serve lunch, PHS serves both breakfast and lunch.

Columbia Park is located at 595 High St., Sunnyview Park is located at 500 S. Berkeley Ave. and PHS at 2525 W. Christoffersen Pkwy.