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Free summer meals program benefits hundreds of local children
summer meals pic
Children pick out food during free lunch at Wakefield Elementary. Currently, the Turlock Unified School District is serving free breakfast and lunch to children 2 to 18 years old at four school sites, providing 1,500 meals a day. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

For Laura Valladolid, mother to 3-year-old Miranda, the free breakfast and lunch program at Wakefield Elementary helps keep her daughter’s belly full and her spirits high.  

“It helps out a lot, we come every single day and I’m grateful it is here,” said Valladolid.

The Turlock Unified School District summer meals program is giving out free breakfast and lunch to children between 2 years old to 18. 

This summer four school sites are participating in the program — Brown, Osborn and Wakefield Elementary schools and Turlock High School.

Currently, the sites are serving about 1,500 meals a day with Wakefield serving the most people.

“For a lot of children these meals are very valuable for their nutritional needs and parents really seem to appreciate the program. If we didn’t have it we would definitely hear it from people,” said TUSD director of Child Nutrition Scott Soiseth. Parents are not required to register their children in the program, nor are they allowed to eat the free food.

Funding for the program is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). “We (TUSD) are reimbursed by the USDA at $2.72 per meal for lunch and $1.37 for lunch and those reimbursements cover labor costs,” explained Soiseth. “This is not a money maker for TUSD, it is a service.”

Studies show that healthy eating and daily physical activity have a profound impact on the body and mind by improving the ability to learn and comprehend, boosting energy, improving school attendance and changing attitudes, behavior and more.

Breakfast is served from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday between now and July 15 at Brown and Wakefield. The summer program will end at Turlock High on July 22, and July 8 at Osborn. 

For more information, contact the TUSD Child Nutrition Department at 667-9048.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.