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Schools fight summer hunger with free meal programs for kids

 A family eats food from takeout containers on a picnic table.
Annie Spratt
Oregon school districts are providing free meals for children over the summer to fight food insecurity.

School districts across Oregon are fighting summer hunger with free
meal programs for kids.

Many families struggle with food insecurity when schools are out over the summer. For these families, both schools and other local programs provide vital resources over the summer months.

Alisha Dodds is Community Relations and Communications Director at Bethel School District.

“We know that summertime can be stressful for families who depend on school meals as part of their day, and we want to be making sure that students and children in the area are fed breakfast and lunch as much as possible,” she said. “So we try to make our program as accessible as possible.”

Bethel’s program starts on June 26 and ends on August 4. Like most school summer meal programs, this leaves gaps in coverage at either end of the summer. Dodds said this is to give the district’s nutritional services staff time to transition between the school year and the summer program.

“In August, it’s kind of the same thing, but we’re prepping for the next school year,” she said. “We have staff come back to work beginning the first week of August, and so, we’re just getting our staff–our nutrition services staff–back to their buildings and getting them to switch gears back to regular school.”

 A poster reads: Free summer meals for all Bethel children 0-18, June 26-August 11. Willamette High, 1801 Echo Hollow Road, Breakfast 9:00-9:30 a.m. M-F, Lunch 11:30 a.m.-12:00 M-F, June 26-Aug. 4. Prairie Mountain, 5305 Royal Ave, Breakfast 8:30-9:00 a.m. M-F, Lunch 12 p.m.-12:30 M-F, June 26-Aug. 11. Meadow View, 1855 Legacy Drive, Breakfast 8:30-9 a.m. M-F, Lunch 12 p.m.-12:30 M-F, June 26-Aug. 4. Bethel School District.
Courtesy Alisha Dodds

Additional summer food resources are available through Food for Lane County and to Bethel district families at the Cascade Family Resource Center at Cascade Middle School.

For additional resources, visit SummerFoodOregon.org, call 2-1-1, or text “food” or “comida” to 304-304.

Chrissy Ewald is a freelance reporter for KLCC. She first reported for KLCC as the 2023 Snowden Intern.
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