Families

They served more than 20,000 meals last summer. Here’s what you need to know

When school is out during the summer months and children are no longer receiving breakfast and lunch at school, many families struggle to feed their children nutritious meals each day. Food costs can rise by hundreds of dollars a month. The summer meal programs work to fill this critical gap.
When school is out during the summer months and children are no longer receiving breakfast and lunch at school, many families struggle to feed their children nutritious meals each day. Food costs can rise by hundreds of dollars a month. The summer meal programs work to fill this critical gap. Getty Images

It won’t be long before summer is here. If you intend to take advantage of the Bellingham Public Schools summer lunch program, here is what you need to know:

Q: When do the summer breakfast and lunch programs begin – and end?

A: It varies by site and the program they are running at that location. Last year, Bellingham Public Schools sponsored seven different sites throughout the city, and each site has it’s own schedule when they are open. These are the tentative sites for the 2018 summer program, but the dates and times will not be finalized until closer to the end of the school year.

▪ Shuksan – school location, June 25 – July 19 (Monday to Thursday) for breakfast and lunch.

▪ Roosevelt – school location, June 18 – Aug. 24 for breakfast and lunch.

▪ Cordata – YMCA - school location, June 18 – Aug. 24 for breakfast and lunch.

▪ Regency Park – Community location, June 18 – Aug. 24 for lunch.

▪ Sterling Meadows – Community location, June 18 – Aug. 24 for lunch.

▪ Bakerview Mobile Park – Community location, June 18 – Aug. 24 for lunch.

▪ Bellingham Sports Plex – Community location, June 18 – Aug. 24 for lunch.

Q: What are the guidelines?

A: Detailed guidelines can be found at the state of Washington’s OSPI website. They are tasked to administer this federal USDA program here in Washington state. There is a wealth of information at this site: k12.wa.us/ChildNutrition/programs/SummerPrograms/default.aspx

Q: Who is eligible?

A: Children 18 years of age and younger may participate in the program. Persons over 18 years old who are physically or mentally disabled and participating in a public or nonprofit private school programs established for children with these disabilities may also participate.

Q: How does it all work?

A: Bellingham Public Schools organizes summer meal programs at some of our schools and works with community partners in high-need residential areas within our district to help feed children in the community. The are able to produce nutritious, balanced meals in the kitchen facility at Shuksan Middle School. Those meals are transported each day to all of the sponsored sites. At the sites, it is a mix of paid staff and volunteers who help manage the meal service.

Q: How is it funded and how much is spent for this program?

A: The Summer Food Service Program is a Child Nutrition Program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. Meals must be served in low-income communities where at least 50 percent of children are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals or in other locations (schools) where at least 50 percent of the children enrolled in a specific program are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals.

Q: How many children do you serve for breakfast and lunch historically?

A: In the summer of 2017, between the seven locations, Bellingham Public Schools supplied approximately 5,200 breakfasts and 15,400 lunches.

Q: Why is this so important?

A: Providing access to summer meals for children in low-income areas is an important priority for Bellingham Public Schools. When school is out during the summer months and children are no longer receiving breakfast and lunch at school, many families struggle to feed their children nutritious meals each day. Food costs can rise by hundreds of dollars a month. The summer meal programs work to fill this critical gap.

Summer food programs play an important role in making sure kids – particularly from lower-income families – don’t go hungry between the last day of school in June and the beginning of the next school year in August. During the school year, schools provide reliable meals at breakfast and lunch for all students, regardless of their family’s ability to pay, but that nutritional backstop vanishes during the summer months.

Q: Who sponsors of the summer breakfast/lunch program?

A: Bellingham Public Schools sponsor in Bellingham. The Boys & Girls Club of Whatcom County also sponsor summer food programs at their locations in Bellingham, Ferndale and Blaine.

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