América del Norte/Estados Unidos/Junio de 2016/The Press Enterprice
Resumen: Towngate Park en Moreno Valley en el distrito escolar unificado de Moreno Valley, esta participa en un programa de comida de verano ofrecido a miles de niños de bajos recursos en las escuelas del interior, parques, bibliotecas, centros comunitarios y otros lugares. Desde 2013, el condado de Riverside se ha ampliado de 162 a 179 lugares, mientras que el Condado de San Bernardino ha aumentado de 131 a 207 sitios.
Esta ayuda está disponibles para niños de hasta 18 años. El programa es financiado por el Departamento de Agricultura de Estados Unidos y administrado en California por el Departamento de Educación del estado. Está dirigido a dar alimentos nutritivos para los niños de bajos ingresos para que estén listos para aprender cuando se reanuden las clases
By STEPHEN WALL / STAFF WRITER
The smell of barbecue drifted through the air as Grace Melendrez’s kids slurped their frozen juice cups.
“It’s yummy,” said her 6-year-old daughter Jazlyn Baca.
“Delicious,” agreed 9-year-old son Damian Baca.
Melendrez took her three kids to Towngate Park in Moreno Valley on a recent weekday to enjoy a free lunch provided by the Moreno Valley Unified School District.
“I like it because it’s good portions and they get full,” Melendrez said. “And they’re not at home watching TV and playing PlayStation.”
The district participates in a summer meal program offered to thousands of low-income kids at Inland schools, parks, libraries, community centers and other places. Since 2013, Riverside County has expanded from 162 to 179 locations while San Bernardino County has swelled from 131 to 207 sites.
Lunches are available to kids 18 and younger. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered in California by the state Department of Education. It’s aimed at giving nutritious food to low-income kids so they’re ready to learn when classes resume. Nearly two-thirds of Riverside County students qualify for free and discount-priced lunches while almost 70 percent are eligible in San Bernardino County.
“We’re a bridge for kids who don’t get much to eat or whose parents can’t afford it,” said Linda Yeh, coordinator of the San Bernardino Public Library’s summer meal program.
The Feldheym Central Library in San Bernardino, partnering with the nonprofit group 180 Degrees and Still Standing, feeds cafeteria-style lunches prepared off site to kids before and after story and craft time, Yeh said.
State officials are focused on having meals served in places where kids hang out, such as parks and libraries, rather than asking them to go to schools that are closed for the summer, said Greg Heilner, manager in the state education department’s Nutrition Services Division.
Nationally, about one in six kids who receive free and discount-priced meals through the National School Lunch Program participate in summer meal programs. The gap exists because it’s hard getting the word out to parents after school ends, he said.
“We could double the number of sites and still not reach every child out there,” Heilner said.
The Corona-Norco Unified School District, which is offering the program at nine elementary schools for the second year, is on track to serve about 1,000 more meals this month than in June 2015, said Amanda Colon, the district’s child nutrition services director.
The Lake Elsinore School District expanded the program from one school in years past to 11 elementary schools this summer. Meals are served to coincide with the district’s literacy camp for second and third-grade students. The district is also offering summer breakfast for the first time, said Dana Kizlaitis, food service director.
The Riverside Unified School District partners with the city of Riverside and offers barbecue lunches at 18 parks, eight schools and two libraries. Participation has grown about 10 to 15 per year since the program started three years ago. Still, the district is only feeding about one third of the more than 15,000 kids eligible for free and discount-priced lunches, said Gavin Brody, nutrition services director.
Moreno Valley’s summer lunch program grew from three parks in 2014 to five last year. This summer, officials added lunches at two high schools that have summer classes and community swimming.
The district is partnering with Riverside County’s Nutrition Education Obesity Prevention program to provide nutrition-related games and activities along with meals. Kids can spin wheels and win prizes if they answer food and beverage questions correctly.
“Our goal is to nourish children not just for a day, but for a lifetime,” said Carla Lyder, the district’s nutrition services director. “They understand the difference between food and activity and the importance of both.”