Las Vegas Sun

November 16, 2018

Currently: 64° — Complete forecast

With school out, summer meals programs ramp up for Las Vegas kids

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Leila Navidi

Emma Cole, 10, talks with friends during Summer Food Service Program lunch at the Heinrich YMCA in Las Vegas on Wednesday, June 19, 2013. The Summer Food Service Program is a federal nutrition program designed to feed children free, nutritious meals and snacks during the months of June, July, and August when school is out.

Sixty-four percent of the 320,000 children in the Clark County School District receive free and reduced-price school meals, meaning they eat breakfast and lunch daily at school at no or little cost to their families.

But when school is out for the summer — CCSD classes ended May 24 — those students can struggle to find consistent and nutritious meals. Many don’t realize the district has had a summer feeding program since 1992 to alleviate the void.

And get this: There is no application, no fees, no proof of residency or income. Participants just need to be 18 or younger.

“Most people don’t know it’s available and it’s actually free,” said Lory Hayon, the coordinator and registered dietitian for CCSD. “The biggest takeaway is that we’re providing meals, and this is how you find one close to you.”

The program is operated by CCSD Food Service and receives its funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the district’s general fund. Last year, it provided 270,000 meals; this year Hayon expects more. She encourages the community to spread the word about the program.

It runs during the week through Friday, Aug. 3 — the new school year starts Monday, Aug. 13. Meal times vary depending on the site, ranging from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. To find the nearest school site, visit ccsdfs.info/summer and type in your address.

The district isn’t alone in its quest to keep children fed in the summer.

Nonprofit Three Square provides meals at an additional 100 locations, such as apartments, parks and recreational centers across the valley through its summer program, Meet Up and Eat Up.

Three Square started its program in 2009 by serving about 39,000 meals. Last year, it served about 265,000 meals, said Andrea Martinez, program director at Three Square.

“We know that as soon as school lets out, so many kids lose access to breakfast and lunch,” Martinez said. “The three months that they’re out of school is a really long time for them to go without food.”

Three Square is in its third year of operating two mobile routes across the valley that serve meals at seven or eight apartment complexes daily. Last summer, the mobile routes served about 26,000 meals, Martinez said.

The Three Square program runs through Aug 10. Times vary from the late morning until the afternoon.

To find out times and locations, visit threesquare.org or text “Summer” to 877-877.

“Summer break does not make you exempt from hunger,” Martinez said.