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USDA Official Stops In San Diego To Promote Summer Lunch Program

Fay Elementary student Jamir, 10, tastes a kumquat from Sahu Subtropicals far...

Photo by Megan Burks

Above: Fay Elementary student Jamir, 10, tastes a kumquat from Sahu Subtropicals farm in Pauma Valley. He says it's sour and won't be eating another one. But thanks to a federal summer lunch program, he can eat other fresh fruit and vegetables when his school cafeteria is closed.

San Diego students had a power lunch with the federal government's highest agriculture official Thursday.

Special Feature Speak City Heights

Speak City Heights is a media collaborative aimed at amplifying the voices of residents in one of San Diego’s most diverse neighborhoods. (Read more)

Photo by Megan Burks

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stopped in San Diego during a national tour to spread the word about summer lunch programs. He says the programs help feed the nation's 21 million children who experience food insecurity.

City Heights children feasted on locally-grown kumquats and oranges with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Thursday afternoon.

Vilsack visited Colina del Sol Park in City Heights on a national tour to promote the Summer Seamless Feeding program. The federally-funded program offers free lunch to students and their siblings during summer breaks from school.

San Diego Unified and the city call it their Summer Fun Café and have offered it for 10 years. Last year, it served more than 300,000 meals and added physical exercise and nutrition education to its summertime meals.

But Vilsack encouraged school and city officials to go a step further to get the word out about the program and expand to new locations.

"Nationally and across this great country, roughly 21 million of the 32 million children who are in school today are on free and reduced lunch," Vilsack said. "So that would mean that 21 million youngsters are in need of assistance and help when school is not in session. Unfortunately, the USDA has provided help and assistance to only about 2.5 million of those youngsters."

Vilsack said more outreach is needed to bring the other 18.5 million into nutrition programs.

San Diego is currently offering its Spring Fun Café until students return from spring break on April 26. Parents can call 2-1-1 or click here to find the location nearest to them.

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