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School Is Out But Hunger Lingers For Some San Diego Kids

For students who rely on school lunch meals, having enough to eat during summer break can be challenging.

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For students who rely on school lunch meals, having enough to eat during summer break can be challenging.

For students who rely on school lunch meals, having enough to eat during summer break can be challenging.

In response to hunger problems, San Diego Unified School District kicks off its Summer Fun Cafe with a barbeque for kids and their parents on Thursday.

Gary Petill, director of the district's Food and Nutrition Services, said about 60 percent of the district’s students rely on school meals.

“When school is out we find that we have to have opportunities to offer lunch and snacks to the kids in the neighborhoods,” Petill told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday.

Petill, said children under 18 can visit any of the 58 sites located throughout the district to receive a free lunch or snack during summer break. All meals are healthy and include fruits and vegetables, he said.

Sites are set up at parks and recreation centers, community centers, military bases and libraries in the district. Many of the sites also include activities offering kids not only a meal but a safe place to hang out for the day. The district has hosted the program for 12 years.

"The program has grown from its original number of six sites," Petill said. "There's no requirement and no questions are asked."

Petill said each site typically sees 50 to 200 children per day. The district will be paid $3.04 per meal served by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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