food assistance

Second Harvest of Silicon Valley's Free Summer Meals Program

Free summer meals programs make a comeback, feeding kids and eligible adults who need nutritious meals this summer.

Following a year of modifications due to the pandemic, free summer meals are back and any child who is 18 or younger can get a safe, free lunch at more than 80 sites in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties—no registration is required. Some sites also offer free breakfast and an afternoon snack as well as low cost meals to adult caregivers.

For help finding a meal site or other food resources this summer text “Summer” for English, “Verano” for Spanish, “Muahe” for Vietnamese or “Лeto” for Russian to 876-876 or visit www.shfb.org/getfood.

While summer has always been a difficult time for families that rely on school meals during the academic year, unprecedented rates of food insecurity and unemployment due to the pandemic have made access to free summer meals programs more important than ever.

To increase awareness and encourage participation in free summer meals programs in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley is collaborating with high need school districts, libraries, social service organizations and other nonprofits throughout both counties to raise awareness and help connect families with the nutritious food they need to thrive this summer.

This year, there are more than 80 federally funded summer meals sites in both counties where any child or teen 18 or younger can obtain a free lunch with no advance registration or documentation required.

Federally funded Summer Nutrition Programs are designed to replace school breakfast and lunch, filling a nutrition gap that exists for thousands of low-income children during the summer months when they are at risk for the consequences of hunger, which include physical and emotional issues, as well as the possibility for “summer slide” where they can lose ground academically when school is out of session. Even before the pandemic, there were a number of barriers that kept kids and families from accessing summer meals, including a lack of transportation and conflicts with work or childcare. Other families were simply unaware that the programs existed or struggled with the stigma attached to receiving assistance.

Families who need help finding a summer meal can text summer text “Summer” for English, “Verano” for Spanish, “Muahe” for Vietnamese or “Лeto” for Russian to 876-876. For help accessing other food resources, call Second Harvest’s multilingual Food Connection hotline at 800-984-3663 or visit www.shfb.org/getfood.

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