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NV Fights Hunger: Expanded After-School Meal Hours

September 24, 2012

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - It's a simple formula: More time for after-school meals means more hungry children can be served. The latest census numbers show there is plenty of hunger to go around for kids in Nevada. According to the 2011 American Community Survey, 16.5 percent of children under 18 are living in poverty in Washoe County.

Elizabeth DeLaluz is a parent involvement facilitator at Echo Loder Elementary School in Washoe County, where her focus now is on getting the word out that the after-school Kids Café program now runs for a full hour, and any child age 18 or under is welcome to stop by the school for a free, hot, well-balanced meal.

"We are a very high-risk area. In some homes, we have two or three families living together, trying to pay the bills. We just want to make sure the kids are fed - make sure they have a nice, warm meal."

The meals are served on weekday afternoons and the hours vary. The mealtime schedule is available at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada website, http://fbnn.org.

Jocelyn Lantrip, marketing director with the Food Bank of Northern Nevada, says they added an extra 30 minutes each day to the after-school meal program at 25 Kids Café sites.

"You don't have to be a student at the school where the site is. You don't have to be enrolled in the after-school program to come and have dinner, and it's great. It's great for parents to know that it keeps kids fed with enough nutrition to do well in school."

DeLaluz is getting the word out with flyers and automatic phone calls, but she says face-to-face encounters are the most productive.

"A lot of things works by word of mouth, so if I tell one person, three to five will come. We're just letting the community know - 'Hey, we have dinner; you don't need to be in the program, just come eat with us.'"

Nevada ranks fifth in the nation for food hardship, according a Gallup survey. Nye County has the highest child-poverty rate in the census, with 32 percent of kids under 18 living in poverty.

More information is available at http://fbnn.org or by calling 775-331-3663.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV