Free Summer Meals

As the summer sun rises over San Jacinto, a remarkable initiative is ensuring that no child goes hungry while school is out. The San Jacinto Unified School District has launched a comprehensive free meal program aimed at supporting families and students during the summer months. 

The program is a constant operation at SJUSD schools since the 2011-2012 school year. The program operates at multiple locations across the district which originally began with three participating schools and now has increased to 13 participating schools across the community of San Jacinto. According to district officials, over 10,000 meals have already been distributed within the first two weeks of summer. The initiative is funded by state and federal grants, ensuring that every student under the age of 18 is eligible for free meals, regardless of income and regardless of home address. In December 2022, Congress passed and created a new permanent Summer EBT program to provide food benefits to families with school-age children, establishing the launch for San Jacinto Unified School District to take the opportunity to maximize the community’s fight against hunger. San Jacinto is automatically eligible and receives these benefits due to its community’s low resources; however, involvement such as this has linked the community to providing stronger influence to student opportunities and parent involvement.

Tammy White, Nutrition Services Director of San Jacinto Unified School District, stated, “We think it is important to offer both breakfast and lunch over the summer, we also increased the number of meals service locations this summer to five and served 23,165 breakfast and lunch meals, which is an increase of 40% in meal participation than we’ve previously done.” There are noticeable improvements in children’s well-being when ensuring they are consuming proper and nutritious meals. Cecilia Lopez, a local parent, shared, “This program has been a lifesaver for my family. With the rising cost of living, knowing my children have access to healthy meals provides immense relief.” Additionally, these programs allow parents to feel less financial strain during the summer.   

The free meal program is an extension of the district’s longstanding commitment to student welfare. Historically, the district has provided free or reduced-price meals during the school year, but the summer program gained momentum following increased food insecurity highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The San Jacinto Unified School District’s summer meal program is a critical lifeline for many families, ensuring that children receive the nutrition they need to thrive. While the program has made significant strides in addressing food insecurity, ongoing support and community involvement are essential for its sustainability. By continuing to invest in such initiatives, SJUSD can pave the way for a healthier, more equitable future for all students.

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