Summer vacation means time off from studies, schedules and, for too many, a square meal.
To bridge the gap between free lunches and no lunches, Modesto City Schools offers summer meals for kids at 21 sites around town. The meals are free to be eaten on site, available only to those 18 or younger. The program runs through Aug. 1.
A 2012 Census Bureau survey found that one in five people lives below the poverty line in Modesto. Most of those are children, with 30 percent of those 18 or younger living in poverty, compared with 10 percent of senior citizens.
The school district is one of 59 organizations offering free meals within 10 miles of Modesto, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which pays for the service. Schools, faith-based groups and nonprofit organizations are among those offering meals.
In Salida, for example, the Salida Union School District offers free breakfast and lunch for kids at its schools, with lunch barbecues in Salida Park each day through July 31.
Turlock Unified School District also serves free lunch for kids at Columbia and Sunnyview parks and Osborn Elementary through July 18, with breakfast and lunch at Crowell and Wakefield elementary schools through July 3, and Pitman High school through July 18.
To find more information or sites anywhere in the nation, visit www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/summer-food-service-program-sfsp or call the National Hunger Hotline toll free at (866) 348-6479; for Spanish, call (877) 842-6273.