Longer lines at free summer lunch program

Longer lines at free summer lunch program »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Wash. - It's costing more to put food on the table, putting added pressure on families.

More parents taking advantage of free lunch programs offered during the summer. KEPR found the lines are a lot longer this year than the last.

The summer lunch program played a key role in Eduardo Marquez-Godinez's childhood.

He said,"One thing, it helped my parents a lot when I came to the U.S. It was a big stress reliever."

Eduardo immigrated here as a child. He's now a student at Wazzu Tri-Cities but has the summer off. He's caring for his niece and nephew, bringing them to Memorial Park in Pasco for the free summer meal program.

"Gives the opportunity for them to continue to progress because without nourishment it's very difficult," he said.

The Tri-Cities School Districts spend around $350,000 on summer meal programs. It's all reimbursed by the feds to provide food to anyone who needs it up to age 18.

It's no questions asked. No rules on immigration status or school enrollment.

Pasco is serving about 10 percent more meals this year.

Kennewick added more locations for the free lunches, now 12 in all.
Kennewick is serving up to 40-percent more breakfasts and lunches since the program kicked off two weeks ago.

"It makes me feel good because that means there's that many more kids that need meals during the summer that might not otherwise get them."

Sam Shick is a nutrition director for KSD. He says the programs wouldn't even happen without federal money.

For a lot of these families the program isn't just about a free meal, it's about an opportunity to help them improve their financial situation.

When Eduardo was a kid, it meant a permanent home.

He said, "They were able to save a little bit of money, to buy a home and become good members of society."

His niece Emma said, "I love the food and I love coming here."

The districts are making sure that those in need don't go without even in the summer.

Numbers for the Richland School District were not immediately available.

Sites will be open throughout the summer.

For a complete listing of times and locations where the free meals are offered, you can find them online at keprtv.com.