Vista, CA –Summer break may be drawing ever closer, but that doesn’t mean we stop feeding our community. Our WaveCrest Cafe team will be hard at work, feeding up to 8,000 lunches a week. The district’s Summer Meals program, operated through the USDA, launches June 8th and runs through August 10th, at 16 locations across the Vista and Oceanside communities that we serve.
While most summer meals locations are at VUSD schools, we do work with community partners to offer meals in some other spaces as well.
The Boys & Girls Club of Vista is one of two locations the district works with outside of traditional school sites, with Vista’s Luz Duran Park being another popular spot. “While we serve summer meals at many of our school sites, we also recognize that members of the community gather in other places, and we’re happy and willing to bring our fresh, healthy and delicious meals to those places,” says VUSD Director of Child Nutrition Services Jamie Phillips.
“Statistically, just 1 out of 7 children who qualify for free or reduced meals during the school year eats a summer lunch,” says Phillips. “We’d like to close that gap and provide that nutrition to the communities and children that we serve.”
The meals at Luz Duran Park have become a time for families to gather and have a picnic style lunch in a familiar and inviting atmosphere. This year, the district is working with the Vista Community Clinic to provide other health and wellness services, like dental screenings.
Each site operates during days and times that are most needed and accessed for the location. Some, like the Boys & Girls Club, will serve meals the entire June 8 – August 10 window, while others operate during shorter windows of time based on historical patterns of attendance.
The district is working to make information about the program as accessible as possible. Schedules and menus are posted on the WaveCrest Cafe website, and shared via emails and handouts to parents and families from each school.
The district is also promoting a meals location finder provided by the California Dairy Council. By texting FOOD (English) or COMIDA (Spanish), to 877-877, users will receive information on locations closest to them.
“We want this program to have as few barriers as possible,” says Phillips. “And so any way that we can reach our community and make this program easy and accessible is beneficial to everyone.” To that end, program directors note that meals are available to all children 18 & under, and no forms or paperwork will be required.
The USDA Summer Meals Program is a national program, and access to nutritious meals is a priority for school districts everywhere.