Kirkland has joined the the federally funded Summer Feeding Program and will host the first of eight free lunches for youth and children 18 and younger on July 10 at in the Totem Lake/Kingsgate area.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the State Office of Public Instruction, particpating youngsters will get a free sack lunch every Tuesday through Aug. 28, 11:30 to noon. It’s part of a national effort to assure adequate nutrition for young people in need during the school break.
This is the first year the City of Kirkland is sponsoring the program and the first year the Lake Washington School District has been eligible for it. That’s because until this year, no school in the district had more than 50 percent of its students enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program. But this year, in the Kingsgate area exceeded that threshold.
“The Summer Feeding Program provides an essential link for students who rely on the Free or Reduced Lunch Program for some of their daily nutrition,” Regi Schubiger, the City of Kirkland’s youth services coordinator, said in a press release. “This is a way of ensuring those same children are fed, even when school is out for summer.”
In this inaugural year, the City of Kirkland is partnering with the Nourishing Network, United Way of King County, the school district and the Department of Agriculture, which will reimburse Kirkland for the meals. The Summer Feeding Program is one of several programs offered in the area by various public and non-profit agencies.
In the fall of 2010, for example, Shauna Yusko, a librarian in the Lake Washington School District, began collecting food and organizing them into backpacks. Yusko called these “Pantry Packs.” Today the program delivers food to more than 350 students in 23 schools throughout Kirkland, Redmond and Sammamish. It was actually patterned after a similar “Backpack for Hunger” effort begun earlier by volunteers at in Juanita -- .
The Nourishing Network began as a initiative aimed at leveraging the community’s time, talent and ideas to close food gaps in the community. Now, the Nourishing Network has become its own entity.
The meals will be made available at no charge to attending children under 18 years of age and younger and are available without regard to race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.
Most of the information for this story is from a City of Kirkland press release.