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Kids Offered Free Summer Lunches

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — School lunches provide, for many students, the only meal of the day, so when summer comes they may find themselves going hungry, according to county officials.

But Bernalillo County is hoping to combat that by offering free meals at dozens of sites this summer. Lee Maokhamphiou, summer lunch administrator, said the county is targeting neighborhoods that have a high number of youngsters who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunch at their local schools.

“Maybe they are in a single-parent family or another situation,” he said. “It might be the only meal they receive all day.”

Free meal sites
Bernalillo County: www.bernco.gov/yss/sumerlunch
City: www.cabq.gov/communitycenters/SummerFoodProgram.html

Albuquerque Public Schools central kitchen is preparing the meals. Starting time varies at each location, but Maokhamphiou said it’s best to get there at the beginning of the serving time because it’s possible a site could run out of food.

“It’s a first-come, first-serve basis,” he said. “It’s a good idea to get there as early as possible.”

Maokhamphiou said the county estimates it will serve approximately 3,500 lunches a day at 50 sites in unincorporated areas in the South Valley, North Valley and East Mountains. The locations vary from parks to community centers and local schools. There are also various mobile-home parks and apartment complexes where children can get a free meal. The program will run through Aug. 10, with some sites also offering breakfast.

For a full list of meal sites, visit www.bernco.gov/yss/sumerlunch.

It’s open to children ages 1 to 18.

The county put up the $440,000 for the program but will be reimbursed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture via the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department, Maokhamphiou said.

The county’s program is being run in conjunction with the city’s summer lunch program, which has more than 100 locations.

“Bernalillo County’s Summer Lunch Program is an important tool in the fight against hunger …” Commission Chairman Art De La Cruz said in a county news release. “Many children rely on the school lunch program for healthy meals throughout the school year, and the County Commission is proud to support child health and nutrition during the summer break.”

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