Last year, large public school districts like Salinas Union High School District announced that they would begin feeding all of their students no matter their families’ income. It meant moving away from giving out school lunch for free only to those students who qualified based on income, but all students, regardless of income, something administrators reasoned would reduce stigma and potentially hurtful labeling of some low-income students.
Well over 40 percent of SUHSD students were certified as low-income, meaning the district met the U.S. Department's community eligibility provision, which enables schools to offer the free meals to all students, whether or not they've filled out paperwork showing family income.
Other schools around the county quickly followed suit; Salinas City Elementary offered completely free lunch and breakfast under the USDA's provision at 10 out of 14 schools.
These programs have been successful and are now entering the summer of 2019, thanks to funding from the USDA, SCESD, North Monterey County Unified, SUHSD and Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, which are taking it to the next level with meals throughout the summer while school is out.
Feeding programs will vary from site to site, and some aren't located on school campuses. Typically, students under the age of 18 are offered free meals—both breakfast and lunch—regardless of their families’ income. Meals will be available through the summer of 2019.
There are multiple ways of finding a summer foodservice program site. Use the map online, text “Summer Meals” to 97779, or call 1-866-348-6479 and enter your zip code to find one near you.