USDA Official Stops In San Diego To Promote Summer Lunch Program
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Aired 4/19/13 on KPBS News.
San Diego students had a power lunch with the federal government's highest agriculture official Thursday.
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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.