This is why communities are working together for the second consecutive year to provide free summer lunches — no questions asked — to people 18 and younger through mobile outreach. This year, MVWSD is partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank, the Santa Clara County Department of Public Health and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital to ensure that residents are not only being fed, but are also being educated about how to maintain a healthy, nutritious diet, according to Debbie Austin, director of food services for the district.
This goal is partially being accomplished by staff members who volunteer at Castro Park and Rengstorff Park every Friday to teach adults about a plethora of foods that will make them and their families physically stronger.
"We (are) reaching out to the community to ensure that families have access to good food, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and other programs that will help them live a healthy life," Austin said.
But not everyone who is eligible takes advantage of the opportunity. According to a recent press release from Second Harvest Food Bank, about 85 percent of those who qualify for prepaid school lunches don't participate in the summer meal program. Lack of food leads to hunger, a lack of energy, and declining physical and emotional health.
This may partially be explained by the number of locations that provide food during the summer months. There are 10 schools at which students eat a free, wholesome lunch and breakfast while school is in session. This number is reduced to just three locations once classes end: Crittenden Middle School, Castro Park, and Rengstorff Park. Last year, 60,467 meals were served, an increase of 21,282 meals over the previous year.
Each of these meals consists of genuinely good food, Austin said. Hamburgers, chicken fajitas, pizza made by a local pizza shop, chicken breast, veggie wraps, rigatoni pasta, and cheese quesadillas are among the lunches that will be distributed throughout the summer. At the two parks, sandwiches, wraps, baked crackers, chips, fresh vegetables, juice, milk and water will be distributed. "I do not want the children walking away with a brown sack. I want them to feel like they just picked up lunch at a high-end restaurant," Austin said. "To me, self pride is everything."
Distribution of these meals began on weekdays in early June. The program will continue until Aug. 10, with no meals served on the Fourth of July.
Crittenden Middle School, at 1701 Rock St., offers breakfast from 7 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Castro and Rengstorff parks only offer lunch. Castro Park, at 1795 Latham St., serves lunch between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m, and Rengstorff Park, at 210 South Rengstorff Ave., serves lunch from 12-1:30 p.m.
For more information, call 650-903-6965 ext. 1222 or visit www.mvwsd.org.
This story contains 575 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.