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Free lunches are on the menu for Thurston kids this summer -- and here’s where to find them

Kids can eat free in Olympia this summer

In Olympia, kids can get free lunches at the Summer Food Service Program sites. Sites are located in areas where 50% or more of the school children qualify for free and reduced lunch. Many sites offer additional programs for kids.
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In Olympia, kids can get free lunches at the Summer Food Service Program sites. Sites are located in areas where 50% or more of the school children qualify for free and reduced lunch. Many sites offer additional programs for kids.

Although most kids look forward to school letting out for the summer, the break means children who receive free and reduced-price lunches during the school year are in danger of missing that meal.

To combat that situation, the USDA partners with local entities like the cities of Olympia and Lacey, local food banks and a host of other organizations to run the Summer Food Service Program.

The program makes use of local sponsors to serve nutritious meals to kids 18 and younger during the break. Sponsors can serve breakfast, lunch, supper, or an afternoon snack. Sites can serve up to two different meals every weekday.

The help is needed: In Washington state, 37 percent of all school children qualify for free lunches, while 7 percent qualify for reduced-price lunches.

“If these families are relying on lunch every day, and summer comes and there’s no lunch, where are those kids getting meals?” said Recreation Program Specialist Luke Burns, who oversees the Summer Food Service Program and the Summer Kids in Parks Program (SKIPP) for the City of Olympia.

Although lunch sites are located in areas where 50 percent or more of school children are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches, kids don’t need to enroll or provide proof they qualify to eat at the site.

“The really nice thing is people can just show up at a site and kids are going to eat,” said Leanne Elko, director of Child Nutrition Services for the Superintendent of Public Instruction. “They don’t have to apply, they don’t have to sign up, they don’t have to give any documentation -- we just feed everybody at that site.”

School lunches are supplemented by organic produce grown by GRuB, a local nonprofit. and the Olympia School District. GRuB also provides kids with produce they can eat over the weekends, when lunch sites aren’t open. The Summer Food Service Program accommodates dietary needs, offers dairy- and meat-free meals, and avoids using peanuts.

The USDA urges program sponsors to host other programming at food sites to encourage kids to come back. Children ages 6-12 visiting program sites in Olympia can attend SKIPP from 12:30 to 3 p.m. where they can play on school playgrounds, do science projects, and go on walking field trips and other activities.

The City of Olympia also partners with the South Sound Reading Foundation to give kids free books, the Timberland Regional Library which enrolls kids in their summer reading program, Vic’s Pizza which provides kids with a pizza party and T-shirts for field trips, and the Intercity Transit Walk n Roll program to plan fun and educational activities for kids.

“A big reason why we provide the SKIPP program is if families make it to the school (for lunch), we want something to be there for them other than just food,” Burns said.

Last year, Washington had 152 program sites, and served an average of 44,938 meals a day. The City of Olympia alone serves about 150 meals a day, more than 8,000 meals each season, to kids in need.

However, this number could be higher. Barriers such as the difficulty finding transportation to sites keeps some children who need meals from being served.

Here’s a list of sites kids 18 and younger can visit to get free lunch this summer:

OLYMPIA

Garfield Elementary

  • 325 Plymouth St. NW
  • Opens: June 24
  • Closes: Aug. 16
  • Lunch hours: Noon to 12:30 p.m.
  • Snack hours: 3 to 3:15 p.m.

Madison Elementary

  • 1225 Legion Way SE
  • Opens: June 24
  • Closes: Aug. 16
  • Lunch Hours: Noon to 12:30 p.m.
  • Snack Hours: 3 to 3:15 p.m.

NORTH THURSTON SCHOOL DISTRICT

Lydia Hawk Elementary

  • 7600 Fifth St. SE, Lacey
  • Opens: June 24
  • Closes: Aug. 16
  • Lunch hours: Noon to 12:45 p.m.
  • Snack hours: 3 to 3:30 p.m.

Lacey Elementary

  • 1800 Homann Drive, Lacey
  • Opens: June 24
  • Closes: Aug. 16
  • Lunch hours: Noon to 12:30 p.m.
  • Snack hours: 3 to 3:30 p.m.

Boys and Girls Club

  • 1105 Tracy St. SE, Lacey
  • Opens: June 24
  • Closes: Aug. 16
  • Lunch hours: 12:15 to 12:40 p.m.

Timberline High School

  • 6120 Mullen Road S.E., Lacey
  • Opens: July 8
  • Closes: Aug. 8
  • Breakfast hours: 8 to 8:30 a.m.
  • Lunch hours: Noon to 12:45 p.m.
  • Note: Closed Fridays

Lakes Elementary

  • 6211 Mullen Road SE, Lacey

  • Opens: June 24
  • Closes: Aug. 16
  • Breakfast Hours: 8 to 9 a.m.
  • Lunch Hours: Noon to 12:30 p.m.

TUMWATER SCHOOL DISTRICT

Tumwater High School

  • 700 Israel Rd SW, Tumwater

  • Open: July 1

  • Close: Aug. 23

  • Lunch Hours: 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

  • Note: Adults accompanying children to this program site can also eat free due to a grant from Tumwater United Families. Families can also visit the Community Resource Center located at the school for food items, toiletries, and clothing throughout the summer months.

THURSTON COUNTY FOOD BANK

Magnolia Villa Apartments

  • 1410 Magnolia St. SE, Lacey
  • Open: June 24
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: 1:45 to 2 p.m.

Deschutes Cove Apartments

  • 7201 Henderson Blvd SE, Olympia
  • Open: June 24
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: Noon to 12:15 p.m.

College Glen Apartments

  • 4870 55th Ln. SE, Lacey
  • Open: June 24
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: 12:30 to 12:45 p.m.

Rochester Organization of Families and Boys & Girls Club

  • 10140 Highway 12 SW, Rochester
  • Open: June 24
  • Close: Aug. 16
  • Lunch Hours: Noon - 12:25 p.m.
  • Snack Hours: 3:45 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.

Evergreen Vista Apartments

  • 1209 Fern Street SW, Olympia
  • Open: July 8
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: 12:30 p.m. - 12:45 p.m.
  • Snack: 2 p.m. - 2:10 p.m.

Falls Pointe Apartments

  • 411 Lee Street SW, Tumwater
  • Open: June 24
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: 11:30 p.m. - 11:45 p.m.

Timbers Apartments

  • 2928 Ruddel Road SE, Lacey
  • Open: June 24
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: 12:55 p.m. - 1:10 p.m.

Surrey Lane Apartments

  • 2810 Ruddel Road SE, Lacey
  • Open: June 24
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: 1:20 p.m. - 1:35 p.m.

Olympic Crest Apartments

  • 206 Lilly Road NE, Olympia
  • Open: June 24
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: 2:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Rainier Vista Mobile Park

  • 8530 Steilacoom Road SE, Lacey
  • Open: July 1
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: 1 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Tolmie Cove Apartments

  • 7333 32nd Ave NE, Olympia
  • Open: July 1
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: 1:30 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.

Tony’s Trailer Park

  • 6821 Martin Way E, Olympia
  • Open: July 1
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: 12:40 p.m. - 12:55 p.m.

Courtside Apartments

  • 515 Courtside Street SW, Olympia
  • Open: July 1
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: 12:10 p.m. - 12:25 p.m.

Evergreen Gardens Apartments

  • 3138 Overhuse Rd. NW, Olympia
  • Open: July 1
  • Close: Aug. 30
  • Lunch Hours: 11:45 p.m. - 12:00 p.m.
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