Summer meal programs more popular this year

Summer meal programs more popular this year
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Our economy is said to be strong and on the rebound from past dips, but more people are looking for free food.

The morning rain didn't stop Arlene Silinovich and her kids from making their way to Keewaydin Park for their summer-time lunch stop.

"We've been coming for about two years -- two or three years! -- we've come a couple years," she says..

Arlene is unemployed and says she'd be lost without the free meal program offered by Kennewick School District.

"We have a busy schedule between dance and football," she added.

The Tri-Cities school districts spend around 300 thousand dollars on summer meal programs. It's all reimbursed by the feds to provide food to anyone who needs it. No questions asked -- no rules on immigration status or school enrollment. Kids just need to be no older than 19.

Kennewick alone is serving a quarter more meals than it did last year.
That amounts to about two-thousand more summer lunches a day than last year.

"In our community, we have more needy people and we have more people that have food insecurity issues at home, which means their families aren't necessarily able to provide the amount of food they need to cover the nutrition needs of their families," says Sam Shick.

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

"There's no local dollars that pay for this program," he continued.

The program means 19 sites are open weekdays for kids to get a free breakfast and lunch. Arlene says it's more than the cost.
It's a guarantee that her kids are on the right track.

"It's good nutrition too, so they have a good balance. Fruits, vegetables, stuff like that, milk," she says.

Options she might not be able to offer without the program.

Arelene: "Do you want a different menu?"
Son: "I'm good!"

Here are links to each district's summer meal program websites.