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San Diego Unified Hopes To Feed 600,000 With Summer Meal Program

Evening Edition

— San Diego officials hope to feed more than 600,000 kids with their free summer lunch program this year.

Aired 6/20/13 on KPBS News.

San Diego free summer lunch program is up and running and organizers hope the federally funded program feeds even more people this year than last.

San Diego Unified is a partner in the Summer Fun Café program, which hands out free lunches to students who would otherwise not be able to afford them during the summer. Gary Petill, food services director for the district, said food security issues plague 30 percent of the district's students. While many families rely on the federally-funded free- or reduced-price lunch program during the school year, food can be difficult to secure when school is out.

"It just really hits you hard when you know that they rely on this throughout the summer," Petill said. "And some people have told me that it saves their grocery bill several hundred dollars a week by having all their children come to eat at these events."

The program began 10 years ago at just six sites. There are now 65 sites offering lunches to students in need.

Parents who want their children included in the program can dial 2-1-1 to find the closest site. Other programs aimed at keeping children active and healthy are also available. They are all free for students up to 18 years old.

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