Education

Filling the nutritional gap over summer vacation

Friday, June 17, 2011

With more than 30 percent of children living in poverty in Fresno County... it's not hard to see why many don't receive a balanced meal during summer break. That's why a couple of lunch programs are joining forces to feed thousand of Valley kids this summer.

A tasty burrito and a game of connect-four have these boys smiling Friday afternoon at the Augusta Boys and Girls Club in Central Fresno.

This is one of over 100 sites where Fresno County EOC provides free lunch for kids, Monday through Friday, under their summer food services program.

Ali Prathaftakis said, "The sites call us with their count, and tells us whether they have more kids or not, and the program just continues to grow and grow."

The program is funded by the USDA, and will provide 100,000 meals to children in rural county areas and low income neighborhoods. Anyone 18 years old and younger is eligible.

Ali Prathaftakis said, "Places like this, the boys and girls club, a lot of kids in the neighborhood know about this place, so they are able to have fun and also receive a healthy, nutritious meal as well."

The goal is to fill that "nutritional gap" some kids may experience during summer break.

Fresno Unified runs a similar program out of 50 school campuses during the summer. About 13-thousand meals are prepared and processed every day at the district's new nutrition center in Northwest Fresno.

Jose Alvarado said, "We follow federal and state regulations for menu planning so we have to have all the milk components, the protein, the calcium the iron, so it's a well-balanced meal the students receive."

Well-balanced and tasty, because kids have a say in what they eat. Next week the center will host its annual vendor days, where students, parents and staff are invited to taste and choose the products that will be served for the next school year and summer program.

Jose Alvarado said, "These products have been vetted through our student preference process, so it's about the kids and what they like and making sure they eat it."

Times and locations:
Fresno County EOC: dial 2-1-1
Fresno Unified School District: (559) 457-6250

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education, graciela moreno
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