Youngsters may be on vacation next week but school district staff and other community partners will ensure they don’t go hungry this summer.
In fact, though it will be down a site this year, Deborah Kravitz, Del Norte Unified School District nutrition services director, thinks the Seamless Summer Food Program will feed as many kids as last year.
The 8-week program will offer breakfast and lunch to youth ages 0-18 at 14 locations from Klamath to Smith River starting Monday, Kravitz said.
“The one site we are not at this summer is Smith River School,” she said, adding the district is revamping the fire alarm system at Smith River School. “The reason for that is construction going on at the school. We are not allowed to be there.”
This year, the district will offer breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday with the exception of the July 4th holiday at the following locations: Open Door Community Health Center, Bess Maxwell School, the Family Resource Center of the Redwoods, Coastal Connections, Howonquet Hall, Lighthouse Community Church, Summer Park Apartments, Hidden Creek Apartments, the Yurok Tribal Office, Totem Villa Apartments and the Del Norte Child Care Council.
Breakfast and lunch will be offered at the Downtown Crescent City Farmers and Artisans Market on Wednesdays and at a to-be-determined site in Klamath Glen. The Del Norte Recreation Department will offer lunch only from noon-1 p.m. starting July 8.
“We just ask that infants be able to chew and swallow,” Kravitz said. “They have to be able to eat solid food. There’s no pre-requisite or requirement or eligibility requirement. It’s free for all kids.”
According to Feeding America, 22 million children receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year. However, during the summer, only 3.76 million receive free or reduced-price meals through the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program.
In Del Norte County, where 7 out of 10 of the district’s 3,567 students qualify for free or reduced-price meals, the number of meals Kravitz’s department serves during the summer has grown since she began expanding the program about four years ago.
In 2015, the district served about 10,000 meals at a handful of sites that were already offering summer programs. In 2016, Kravitz said her department served 22,000 meals. That number grew to 36,000 in 2017 and 52,000 in 2018.
Kravitz noted that most of the youngsters her staff feeds are local.
Del Norte Unified School District also partners with other programs to provide meals to the kids in their care, Kravitz said. This includes the Boys and Girls Club of the Redwoods site in Klamath, the Yurok Tribe’s daycare program near Margaret Keating Elementary School and the youth summer programs affiliated with the Northern California Indian Development Council, she said.
Kravitz said her department will also provide meals for the school districts’ summer school programs at Bess Maxwell and Margaret Keating schools as well as its other programs. She said they will also likely provide meals for the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation’s language camp.
“We do expect another very busy summer,” she said. “We’re hoping to be able to see the same kind of numbers we saw last summer.”
For more information about the Seamless Summer Food Program, call or email Deborah Kravitz at (707) 464-0246 or DKravitz@DNUSD.org . More information can also be found at www.facebook.com/delnortenutrition/.