Filling the minds and stomachs of youth and their families, the City of San Diego and San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) served up its one millionth free lunch on Wednesday, August 17 at the City Heights Recreation Center.
The Summer Fun Café program, now in its 13th year, provides nutritious meals to children during the out-of-school months. This can sometimes be a difficult time for families who regularly depend on access to free or reduced price lunches provided throughout the school year. This program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Seamless Summer Feeding Option, follows nutrition guidelines and offers children whole grain rich products, low fat and fat free milk, 100 percent fruit and/or vegetable juices and a variety of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables. The City’s Park & Recreation Department has been a program partner since 2003.
“This program is all about providing more opportunities for San Diego’s families and children who would otherwise go without lunch during the summer months when school is out,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “Each meal makes a difference and through this partnership between the City and school district we’ve now been able to make a million differences.”
The City continues to find ways to provide healthy food options to areas in the most need. In addition to efforts through the Summer Fun Café Program, the City partnered with South Bay Union School District in an effort to bring similar programming to five recreation centers in the South Bay area as well as the Hunger Coalition to try and increase participation in Southeast San Diego. As a result, more than 10,000 meals have been served this summer.
Recently, the City received a grant from the National Recreation and Park Association and the Walmart Foundation to provide a free LEAN (Leveraging Education, Activity and Nutrition) Kids program at 17 sites throughout the City. It is part of a larger effort to impact childhood obesity by providing programming that keeps kids active and educated about how to make healthy food choices. For its efforts in addressing this increasing issue, the City recently received an Award of Excellence for its participation in the program last year.
Hundreds attended the August 17 event, which also featured a craft fair, nonprofit informational booths providing information and free resources to the public. Additionally, free fruits and vegetables, provided by Feeding America and the San Diego Food Bank, were available for families to take home. The last free lunch for the 2016 year is on Friday, August 19 at the Linda Vista Recreation Center.
For more information and locations of the Summer Fun Café, visit www.sandiegounified.org/2016-summer-lunch-program-locations. For more information about the City’s Park and Recreation Department and its wide array of programming and activity options, visit www.sandiego.gov/park-and-recreation.