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Fed Relief Available for Healthy Meals at WA Child-Care Programs

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Monday, December 7, 2020   

SEATTLE -- Some child-care providers in Washington state can get reimbursed to serve healthy meals.

The federal Child and Adult Care Food Program also helps cover costs for emergency homeless shelters and adult-care centers.

It's specifically aimed at organizations that serve low-income families.

Leanne Eko is director of child and nutrition services at the statewide Office of Superintendent of Public Education, which distributes funds for this supplemental program.

"You're not going to make money off of this program," Eko explained. "But hopefully it helps subsidize your budget so you can provide healthier meals, you can buy more fresh fruits and vegetables to serve the kids."

More than 4.2 million children and 130,000 adults nationwide receive meals and snacks through the Child and Adult Care Food Program each day, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Eko said interest in the program has ramped up during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her department also distributes free and reduced-price lunches. She said this year has showed the importance meals played in families' routines and how comforting that routine can be.

"If you can drive up to the school and see your lunch lady or another school professional and you just get to wave to them, that was so meaningful for children," Eko remarked.

The Child and Adult Care Food Program received $3.7 billion dollars in 2019.

During the pandemic, programs have been allowed to transition to take-home lunches and snacks.


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