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Yuba City Unified summer meal program begins amid effort to get kids interested in nutrition

Summer meal program at Yuba City Unified aims to get kids interested in nutrition
Summer meal program at Yuba City Unified aims to get kids interested in nutrition 02:09

YUBA CITY — About 500 students showed up Wednesday for a free summer meal in Yuba City. The school district is stepping up to make sure the kids are fed all summer long while they aren't in school.

Much of the food supplied is locally grown, but the ultimate goal is to create a district farm to fully sustain students during school and summer.

The Yuba City Unified School District kicked off its summer meal program with a twist. It's all part of a larger effort to get kids interested in nutrition and about where their food comes from.

"It reminds them of school they eat the school lunch they enjoy it there. They get to pick their food and then there are different activities they can go and do," said Yuba City Unified mom Stephanie Klaus.

The district is providing free meals for kids Mondays through Fridays this summer, and the kickoff event got the kids involved with a simulated farmers market.

"They go to our resource market that will have farmers market dollars. They each get $2—one for a fruit, one for a vegetable—and they go through and they get to shop," said Chelsey Slattery,  the district's director of nutrition services.

This is only the second year of the program, but the district said it has already doubled in size and highlights the need for summer meals in this community.

"In the normal school year, we offer breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks. So the majority of students who eat with us, they get the bulk of their nutrition at school," Slattery said.

Yuba City Unified has community eligibility provisions for the entire district, which means all students eat for free. They do not check for income verification but when they look at the numbers, 78% of students qualify for free and reduced meals.

"Everything keeps going up in price, so this is a great way to make sure the kids get the nutrition that they need," Klaus said.

The broader goal is to eventually create a district-wide farm that can sustain the students during both school and summertime. In the meantime, the district wants to make summer meals fun and exciting.

"There's no stigma attached to it," Slattery said. "It doesn't really matter that it's free. It's just something to come out and be a part of and participate in the community."

Other community partners like the Yuba City food bank and the library also participated to provide resources and information for families who need it. The summer meal program for this year has several options and locations check out their website for what fits your needs.

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