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Free Summer Meal Resources Available to Wash. Parents

Free summer meal programs are helping working families, who spend an extra $300 on food when school is out. (School's Out Washington)
Free summer meal programs are helping working families, who spend an extra $300 on food when school is out. (School's Out Washington)
June 5, 2018

SEATTLE – Summer break is approaching in Washington state, which also means many families can't rely on school for a meal during the day. Schools and summer programs will be stepping up to fill the gap with free summer meals.

Marci Asher is the executive director of the Urban Family Center in south King County, which provides mentoring and after school and summer programming. That includes a partnership at Creston Point Apartments in South Seattle, home to about 1,500 youths, all of whom qualify for free and reduced-price lunch and the majority of whom are people of color.

Asher says tackling hunger is the crucial first step toward tackling other issues youths face.

"I realize now that there's so many behaviors that are associated with kids being hungry, which is a huge thing at our complex and with what our kids deal with," she says.

Asher says their partners at United Way of King County are offering science, technology, engineering and math - or STEM - programming for kids over the summer to combat the learning slide children experience without school over the summer. Washington parents can find free summer meals and other programs near them by searching on Parent Help 123.

The lack of meals at school presents a challenge for working families during the summer. Families that qualify for free and reduced-price lunches end up paying an average of $300 more a month on food during the school break. Asher says parents appreciate the type of meal program that places such as Urban Family Center provide.

"By either giving food away or doing the summer lunch program, you are definitely helping parents that are already living paycheck to paycheck," she notes. "And just one catastrophic thing can make people homeless, so this is helping to prevent that."

The summer meal program at Urban Family Center begins on July 9 and is available to everyone.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA