While for many summer vacation means non-stop fun, the lack of school for some students signifies three long months where the daily, nutritious meals provided by campus cafeterias are no longer available. To address this problem of food insecurity and hunger over the summer months, local school districts offer breakfast, lunch and in some cases, dinner, to students free of charge.
The Turlock Unified School District’s Child Nutrition Department is offering free meals to kids and teens under the age of 18 at six locations this summer: Columbia Park (595 High St.), Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy (9201 N. Soderquist Rd.), Sunnyview Park (500 S. Berkeley Ave.), Crowell Elementary School (118 North Ave.), Pitman High School (2525 W. Christoffersen Pkwy.) and Turlock High School (1600 E. Canal Dr.).
According to Child Nutrition Director Scott Soiseth, this marks the first year that TUSD has provided free summer meals at both PHS and THS. Formerly, the two locations took turns hosting the free meal program each year.
“What we found was that when we had it at Turlock, Pitman students couldn’t make it across town and vice versa,” said Soiseth. “We wanted to see if we could meet the needs of both sides, so we’re holding it at both to see if we can get kids to come to both.”
From June 1 through July 13, Columbia Park and Sunnyview Park will serve just lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Also from June 1 to July 13, THS and PHS will serve breakfast from 7:15 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
From June 1 through June 28, Osborn and Crowell will serve both breakfast and lunch from 7:15 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., respectively.
“We gear this toward students who, for the most part, are dependent upon these meals for daily nutrition,” said Soiseth. “It’s a huge benefit to both students and the community.”
Soiseth added that the summer meal program typically provides around 1,200 lunches and 600 breakfasts daily.
“We’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and it’s just a great service,” said Soiseth. “It’s taken for granted sometimes, but not by the kids that really look forward to it during the summer and come back every year.”
The Denair Unified School District is providing free summer meals to students under 18 as well. Breakfast and lunch will be served May 30 to June 29 and July 10 to July 27 at Denair Elementary (3773 Madera Ave). Breakfast will be served from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
From May 30 to June 29, DUSD will also be providing free dinner at Denair High School (3431 Lester Rd.) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Along with TUSD and DUSD, the Hilmar Unified School District will also serve free meals to children under the age of 18 over the summer.
Meals will be provided at Hilmar High School (7807 N. Lander Rd.) and Hagaman Park (19914 River Rd.) Monday through Thursday from June 12 to July 20. At HHS, breakfast will be served from 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. and lunch from 10:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Lunch will be provided at Hagaman Park from 12:45 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. On June 30, July 7 and July 14, meals will be served on Fridays at both locations, and no meals will be served on July 3 and 4.