There is no reason for a child to go hungry this summer.
Free breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack are being offered at dozens of locations across the Las Vegas Valley. The Summer Food Service Program is sponsored by Three Square food bank, the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas and other community partners.
No paperwork or ID is required. Youths 18 or younger will receive meals, with no questions asked. Most of the nearly 40 locations in Clark County will be open through Aug. 24.
To find the location nearest you, call or text Three Square at 556-9129 or visit threesquare.org.
Margarita Cruz is a mother of four kids, two of whom attend Booker Elementary School, 2277 N. Martin Luther King Blvd. Her kids received free breakfasts and lunches during the school year, but she has had to scramble to feed them lately.
She took them to Pearson Community Center, 1625 W. Carey Ave., after hearing about the program from her nephew.
"It’s difficult to feed them when they’re out of school," Cruz said, as translated by her son, 10-year-old Alex.
Her kids received a chicken sandwich with cheese, three celery sticks with ranch dressing, an apple and a half-pint of chocolate milk. The previous day’s meal was a chicken salad, an orange, three carrot sticks and crackers.
Cruz said she plans to bring her kids back throughout the summer to help feed them.
About 50 kids participating in Pearson’s summer camp also received lunches, but Cruz’s family and one other family were the only ones to come from the outside.
It illustrates a troubling trend the SFSP is experiencing.
About 170,000 kids in the Clark County School District relied on the free lunch program this past school year. That is more than half of the district’s population and the most in its history.
But participation in the summer program dropped by 10 percent last summer and 5 percent the year before.
"One (reason) is the language barrier," said Three Square chief operating officer John Livingston.
Livingston said some parents are wary of showing up because they worry about having to show some documentation.
"The other is just education throughout the community," Livingston said.
Sunrise-area resident Judith Thompson is one example. She waited in line for an hour and a half with her three kids at the food pantry at Sunrise Baptist Church, 1780 Betty Lane. She is fairly new to poverty and said it was just her fourth time visiting the pantry.
She also had not heard of the SFSP but was pleasantly surprised to learn about it.
She said she was "definitely, definitely" interested in it.
"That’s three kids, three meals," Thompson said.
The SFSP started in 2007, serving about 100 meals a day, said Denise Rosettani, a chef at the Culinary Academy. About 4,500 meals were served through the various organizations last year.
Rosettani said the meals also are healthier than ever before.
"It’s summertime. These kids have no business having sodium," she said. "We’re trying to knock it out and still make it enjoyable for the kids.
"We’ve done as much as we possibly can to improve the mealtime experience for the youth."
For more information about the program, call 924-2102 or visit theculinaryacademy.org.
Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at email@example.com or 224-5524.How you can help
Three Square and the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas are accepting volunteers for their summer food programs. For more information, call Three Square at 644-3663 or visit threesquare.org, or call the Culinary Academy at 924-2102 or visit theculinaryacademy.org.