While for many summer vacation means non-stop fun, the lack of school for some students signifies three long months where the daily, nutritious meals provided by campus cafeterias are no longer available. To address this problem of food insecurity and hunger over the summer months, local school districts offer breakfast, lunch and in some cases, dinner, to students free of charge.
"Ceres Unified School District wants to make sure all kids have an opportunity to eat," said Assistant Child Nutrition Director Rebecca "Becky" Smith.
The Ceres Unified School District's Child Nutrition Department is offering the "Seamless Summer Feeding Program" of free meals to kids and teens under the age of 18 at elementary, junior high and high school locations this summer. The program began Monday and coincides with the district's summer school program. It continues until June 30 (July 7 at Central Valley High School).
At all Ceres elementary school sites, breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12 noon weekdays.
The three junior high school sites will be serving breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. and lunch from 12 noon to 12:20 p.m.
Brunch is available from 10 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. at Central Valley High School. The exception is Tuesday, the Fourth of July.
Breakfast food is prepackaged, said Smith to make for a speed line type of serving.
Children have the option of eating cereal for breakfast or selecting an alternative. On Mondays they can choose a cinnamon roll; Tuesday a breakfast sandwich; on Wednesday a pancake on a stick; Thursday an egg and cheese breakfast wrap; and Friday an apple-cranberry Danish.
Children at the junior highs and high school have two entrée options for lunch, said Smith.
Food is not offered at Ceres High School since summer school classes this year for high schoolers are being offered at Central Valley High School.
Food is not limited to Ceres students and not to summer school students. Any child may eat at the CUSD nutrition sites.
"It's rare that we get outside kids," said Smith. "It depends on the site. Lunchtime would be more likely to get more outside students not participating in summer school."