WASHINGTON, D.C. – Now, finding a “healthy” school lunch can be as easy as calling the IRS.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has launched a hotline students and parents can call to find free meal sites in their area.
“We’ve had a lot of callers be surprised that this program even exists and I think it’s really important for anyone to know, even if let’s say you might be having a bad week and you’re not able to feed your child, every child should have food and no child should go hungry,” National Hunger Hotline manager Gina Bonilla tells South Dakota Public Broadcasting.
“And this is a great way to supplement the breakfast and lunch that children receive during the school year.”
Anyone can call the hotline and after giving a zip code, can be given “the nearest food site where meals are provided by the USDA.”
SDPB reports only 6 South Dakotans have called the hotline in the past two months.
Meanwhile, federally-funded food trucks are driving through neighborhoods trying to give away free meals.
The program judges success not by how many people don’t need the free meals, but by how many people they can serve.
There are six free meal locations in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area. Organizers want to serve 1,000 children per week and they’re “working tirelessly” to do that.
“It’s not a program for poor people. It’s about feeding children, making sure they have a healthy resource of food and helping parents all around,” LaToya Brown, the local free food program administrator, tells the Free Lance-Star.
“We know that food is expensive, we know that grocery bills probably double and triple during the summer months because kids are home all the time.
“That’s why we have open sites, because we don’t have to look at the family’s individual income,” Brown says. “Any child can come and partake in these meals.”
In Macon-Bibb County, Georgia, anyone under 18 can receive free breakfast, lunch and snacks during the summer — including from some mobile locations.
Think of it as the ice cream truck — only with broccoli and other Michelle Obama-approved fare.
Georgia Public Broadcasting reports:
On a recent weekday, a yellow school bus rolled through the Jones Homes complex in Macon’s Bloomfield neighborhood. It also hits an apartment complex on Bloomfield Way, nearby Shakespeare Homes, as well as Skyview trailer park and Evergreen mobile home park.
At one point the driver blew the horn and pulled over. It wasn’t there to pick up students, but rather invite them on board to eat.
The bus has become a big yellow food truck of sorts. On this day, the youths had three choices for lunch: a ham and cheese salad, Southwestern chicken on a tortilla or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, all packed in attractive plastic containers. Milk and juice chilled in a nearby cooler.
The diners were choosy. They ambled out of their apartments, some barefoot, to board the bus and make a selection.
The program made an estimated 200,000 lunches last year and anticipate making just as many this summer.