Kelley Atherton, The Triplicate

Del Norte County Unified School District will offer free food to children for three weeks this summer.

The Summer Food Service Program is open to all youths under age 18 years from Monday to July 12.

Children do not need to attend summer school to receive a free meal. No registration or identification is required.

The Summer Food Service Program provides free, healthy breakfasts and lunches for all children at Bess Maxwell School and Smith River School.

Meals will be available weekdays (closed Fridays and July 4). Breakfast will be from 7:30 to 8 a.m. Lunch will be from 11 to 11:30 a.m.

This free meal program is underused in Del Norte County, according to

a recent report.

A new report from the California Food Policy Advocates found that Del

Norte has the ninth-lowest participation in summer meal programs.

Only 8 percent of Del Norte children receive meals from local schools

during the summer, according to the CFPA.

The report "School's Outandhellip;Who Ate?" found that statewide more than 2

million (84 percent) of children in California did not benefit from

federal summer meal programs in 2011.

Last summer, 116 children in Del Norte received meals from summer

meal programs - 13 more children participated than in 2010.

The "School's Out" report found that participation in federal summer

meal programs statewide has decreased by more than 50 percent in the

last few years.

"That downward trend is driven largely by a decline in meals served

by summer school," according to the CFPA.

Recommendations in the report include:

andbull;andensp;A statewide effort to address deficits in summer nutrition and

summer learning.

andbull; Required collection and tracking of basic data on summer school and

summer programs.

andbull; Rigorous outreach to inform families of available summer meal


andbull; Research to better understand the availability and impact of summer

nutrition resources on children's diets.

Reach Kelley Atherton at