By Susan Henderson, Food Services, Lodi Unified School District
Everyone has at least one profound memory associated with growing up and eating lunch at school. Favorite items or recipes, a memorable lunch staff member or going thru the lunch line are all memories that come to mind when you ask someone to reflect on their school lunch experience.
So, what happens when school is out during the summer months? The simple answer is that we keep serving lunch!
Summer meals have been provided to students in our district for many years under the Federal Summer Meals program. This program follows federal and state guidelines for nutritional content and the meals are provided, free of charge, to all children 18 years old and younger. Last summer, Nutrition Services launched our grant-funded School Meals on Wheels Food Truck to meet the increasing need of providing food access to the children in our surrounding community. This helped to increase our summer meals outreach last year and we served more than 40,000 meals under the Seamless Summer (SSO) program in 2018.
This summer, there will be 16 open lunch sites within our school district for children 2-18 years of age to receive free meals. We are planning and looking for community partners to offer nutrition education and simple enrichment activities at these sites so children are able to learn and have fun during lunch.
The district will be kicking off the Summer Meals Program with a fun, family-friendly event on Mon, June 3, from 10am to 1pm at Heritage Elementary School. Held in partnership with the Healthy San Joaquin Collaborative, the “Activate Your Summer: Move More, Sit Less” community event will bring education and activities to help our students and the community learn fun ways to exercise and stay healthy over the summer. Fun events provided by San Joaquin Public Health, UC-CalFresh, UC Cooperative Extension; health screenings with Community Medical Services; gardening activities; a nutrition relay with Dairy Council of California; bike safety with Bike Lodi; and much more are scheduled. The community is invited to attend.
The Seamless Summer Meals Program is operated by LUSD Nutrition Services and is a US Dept of Agriculture (USDA) program. This program ensures that children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Information on dates, times and locations of meals can be found on our website at http://foodservice.lodiusd.net . You can also text the word “FOOD” to 877-777 to find the closest meal location to you.