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Summer Meals Program Kicks Off in Vista & San Diego County
Vista, CA. JUNE 2018 – Despite the summer break, Vista Unified School District’s Nutrition Services department (aka WaveCrest Cafe), will be hard at work, feeding up to 8,000 lunches a week when all of their sites are operating simultaneously. The district’s Summer Meals program, operated through the USDA, launches June 8th and runs through August 10th, at 16 locations across the Vista and Oceanside communities the district serves.
In what is becoming a tradition, the Boys & Girls Club of Vista will host a summer meals celebration on Tuesday, June 12th, from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm, featuring nutrition-themed activities and a special lunch time celebration.
“We had a fantastic summer meals kickoff event last year,” says Raul Castillo, Director of Operations and Programs for the Boys & Girls Club of VIsta. “And when given the opportunity to build on that it made perfect sense. We love being able to engage the children participating in our summer programs with fun opportunities to learn about the things that impact their lives, and nutrition is at the top of that list.”
The Boys & Girls Club is one of two locations the district works with outside of traditional school sites, with Vista’s Luz Duran Park being another popular location. “While we serve summer meals at many of our school sites, we also recognize that members of the community gather in other places, and we’re happy and willing to bring our fresh, healthy and delicious meals to those places,” says VUSD Director of Child Nutrition Services Jamie Phillips.
“Statistically, just 1 out of 7 children who qualify for free or reduced meals during the school year eats a summer lunch,” says Phillips. “And we’d like to close that gap and provide that nutrition to the communities and children that we serve.”
The meals at Luz Duran Park have become a time for families to gather and have a picnic style lunch in a familiar and inviting atmosphere. This year, the district is partnering with the Vista Community Clinic to provide even more services such as dental screenings and lead poisoning awareness information.
Each site operates during days and times that are most needed and accessed for the location. Some, like the Boys & Girls Club, will serve meals the entire June 8 – August 10 window, while others operate during shorter windows of time based on historical patterns of attendance.
The district is working to make information about the program as accessible as possible. Schedules and menus are posted on district and Nutrition Services websites, and via emails and handouts to parents and families from each school. The district is also promoting a meals location finder provided by the California Dairy Council. By texting FOOD (English) or COMIDA (Spanish), to 877-877, users will receive information on locations closest to them.
“We want this program to have as few barriers as possible,” says Phillips. “And so any way that we can reach our community and make this program easy and accessible is beneficial to everyone.” To that end, program directors note that meals are available to all children 18 & under, and no forms or paperwork will be required.
The USDA Summer Meals Program is a national program, and access to nutritious meals is a priority for school districts everywhere.
VISTA USD / BOYS & GIRLS CLUB SUMMER MEALS CELEBRATION INFORMATION
Who: Jamie Phillips, Director of Child Nutrition Services, Vista Unified School District; Raul Castillo, Director of Operations & Programs, Boys & Girls Club of Vista
What: Summer Meals Celebration. Nutrition themed games, quizzes and music/dance program.
When: Tuesday, June 12, 2018; 11:15 am – 12:30 pm
Where: Boys & Girls Club of Vista. 410 California Ave. Vista, CA 92083
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