LA QUINTA – In summer 2018, the Desert Sands Unified School District served 61,334 free meals to youth and is preparing to do it all again – for as many youth — beginning June 13 through the Summer Meal Program.

Many kids who rely on school meals during the academic year struggle to get enough to eat during the summer months. Free summer meal programs — at schools and community centers — are helping fill the void.

This Summer Meal Program will be feeding children at 21 sites. Click here for sites and times.

“Whether it is a school site or a community partner’s site, our nutritionally balanced, wholesome meals will be free to any child 18 years old and younger,” Nutritionist Jodi Schneider told Uken Report.

The thousands of free summer meals will be delivered and served to locations that youth can easily access. In addition to public schools, the meals will be available at the Indio Boys & Girls Club, La Quinta Boys & Girls Club, Indio Community Center, Palm Desert Community Center, La Quinta Library & Wellness Center, New Life Church during Vacation Bible School, Wolff Waters, Narrow Door-Mountain View, and Narrow Door-Shady Lane.

“Access to good nutrition is especially important during the summer,” Schneider said. “Most of the year, access is easy as schools provide breakfasts, lunches and some supper meals daily. However during the summer months with school closed, access to nutritious, enjoyable meals can become difficult.  In addition, walking to a providing location in the desert heat may prevent some kids from eating a balanced diet or possibly eating at all.”

Some 43% of low-income families say it’s harder to make ends meet during summer, according to No Kid Hungry. Healthy meals fall victim to tight budgets.

Good nutrition is essential for learning in school, according to the Nutrition Service Department. Continuing healthy eating habits is also important during the long hot summer months. Eating nutritious foods helps ensure students retain their hard learned knowledge… and to help them to keep right on learning throughout the summer.

Summer Meal

Daniel Cappello

Daniel Cappello is director of Nutrition Services, which shepherds the Summer Meal Program.

For many of these children, summer vacation can bring the temptation of eating empty calorie snacks and foods that are high in sugar, fats and sodium. And for many others, summer exposes students to an increased risk of hunger and developmental decline. Make seasonal fruits and vegetables a high priority for your snacks, meals and anytime.

Summertime is a time to play hard, but it is also a time to remember to eat right. Make sure good nutrition remains a priority all summer long, and students will return to school in the fall healthy, sharp and ready to learn, according to the department.

“It is truly a privilege to be able to serve our communities such high quality meals all year long,” Schneider said.  “In doing so, we hope our kids will return to school in August fueled up and ready to learn.”

To read the Statement of Nondiscrimination regarding the Summer Meal Program, click here. 


Image Sources

  • Daniel Cappello: LinkedIn
  • DSUSD cafeteria: Desert Sands Unified School District