(As announced in Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers, Wednesday, April 18th, 2018)
Despite what the recent weather might imply, summer and the end of the academic year are just around the corner. For many families in Siskiyou County this means an end to the free or discounted meals their children receive at school and an increase in concern over how to feed those kids the healthy meals they deserve. To help meet the need for more summer food options the Pacific Power Foundation recently awarded Great Northern Services (GNS) a $2000 grant to support the USDA Summer Food program they administer.
According to data from Feeding America, Siskiyou County has the second highest rate of food insecurity on the west coast and the second highest rate of childhood food insecurity. “Hunger is an issue in our community year round,” says Marie-Josée Wells, Development Director at GNS “but summer break is often an extra stressful time for children who rely on free school food programs.” 61.1% of students in Siskiyou County are eligible to receive free or discounted school meals, according to kidsdata.org, a program of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health. “When those meals are not available,” Wells added, “families have to incur extra costs and children are less likely to receive the proper nutrition they need.”
“The USDA Summer Food program is a vital part of the fight against food insecurity”, says GNS Community Services Director Heather Solus, “but their funding only covers a portion of the costs necessary to prepare and deliver healthy, nutritious meals especially in a county as spread out and remote as ours. Pacific Power Foundations’ Community Grant helps make sure we can offer fresh fruit and vegetables, and helps us serve lunches in more locations.”
The Summer Lunch Program offers a completely free meal to all children under 18 and has expanded from serving 1,115 meals at one location in 2015, to 4,204 meals in 6 locations last year, and GNS predicts they will serve 8,000 meals from 10 locations in 2018. The Pacific Power Foundation has supported the program every year since its inception. “We are so grateful for foundation’s continued support. Their partnership has been an essential part of bringing these services to more and more kids, in more areas of the county” says Solus. “It really makes a big difference to the quality of life for the children who take part.”
For information about how to donate to or volunteer in the Summer Food program this year, contact Heather Solus at (530) 938-4115, extension 128.