A sack lunch and a small carton of milk go a long way for Michelle Maas’ three sons.
“She doesn’t always have food around the house, ’cause we eat a lot,” Maas’ oldest son, 14-year-old Kane, said Wednesday while waiting for his brother to finish his turkey-and-cheese wrap.
Every day this week, Maas and her sons have walked about a mile and a half from their home to Mount Tahoma High School, where her boys receive free lunches.
“Sometimes I don’t have lunch for them,” she said.
During the school year, she said she spends about 40 cents per daily lunch under the free and reduced program — and it adds up.
But during the summer months, the family gets more relief. School districts and nonprofit organizations throughout Pierce County offer free lunches to children 18 years old or younger at dozens of sites. Parents or adult guardians do not get a meal.
The summer lunches are part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, which reimburses school districts and nonprofits on a per-meal basis.
Paul Conger, a field assistant at Tacoma Public Schools Nutrition Services, said the program does not require students to show financial need, fill out an application or participate in summer school.
“They simply need to be there when we serve,” Conger said.
Linda Morris, a child nutritionist manager at Mount Tahoma, said many children go hungry in the summer, in part because the meal program isn’t widely known.
Conger said the program provides some children with the only meal they’ll have all day.
Statewide, the program served a daily average of 40,365 children at 825 sites last summer, according to the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
List of meal sites is current as of June 16, and is subject to change. Contact sponsors for more information concerning hours, days and meals.
Sponsor: Altheimer Memorial Church of God in Christ, 253-572-6751
Sites: Altheimer Memorial COGIC.
Sponsor: Bethel School District, 253-683-6911
Sites: Bethel Middle School, Chester H. Thompson Elementary, Evergreen Elementary.
Sponsor: Chinese Community Center, 253-376-3553
Sites: Chinese Community Center.
Sponsor: Clover Park School District, 253-583-7380
Sites: Clover Park High School, Hillside, Hudtloff, Lakeview, Park Lodge, Southgate, Tillicum, Tyee Park and Woodbrook schools.
Sponsor: Franklin Pierce School District, 253-298-4618
Sites: Brookdale Elementary, Harvard Elementary, James Sales Elementary School, Tahoma View Apartments.
Sponsor: House of Prayer Foundation, 253-473-6612
Sites: Agape Christian Ministeries, House of Prayer Church.
Sponsor: Life Center Tacoma, 253-756-2417
Sites: Life Center Baker, Life Center Central, Life Center South.
Sponsor: Metro Parks Tacoma, 253-442-4872
Sites: Franklin Park, Jefferson Park, People’s Center, Portland Avenue Park, SERA Sprayground, South Park, Titlow Park, Verlo Playfield, Wapato Park, Wright Park.
Sponsor: Orting Food Bank Inc., 360-893-0095
Sites: Orting Park.
Sites: Key Peninsula Civic Center, Lake Palmer.
Sponsor: Sumner School District, 253-891-4600, 253-891-4800
Sites: Daffodil Valley Elementary, Liberty Ridge Elementary.
Sponsor: Tacoma School District, 253-571-3375
(Not every site listed offers meals on a daily basis. The schedule varies widely.)
Sites: Arlington Elementary, Baker Middle School, Birney Elementary, Blix Elementary School, Boze Elementary, Bryant Elementary, Delong Elementary, Downing Elementary, Edison Elementary, Fawcett Elementary, First Creek Middle School, Foss High School, Franklin Elementary, Geiger Elementary, Giaudrone Middle School, Gray Middle School, Helen B. Stafford Elementary School, Jason Lee Middle School, Jefferson Elementary, Larchmont Elementary, Lincoln High School, Lister Elementary, Lyon Elementary, Madison Elementary, Manitou Park Elementary, Mann Elementary, Mason Middle School, McCarver Elementary, Meeker Middle School, Mount Tahoma High, Northeast Tacoma Elementary, Oakland Alternative High School, Point Defiance Elementary, Reed Elementary, Reengagement Center, Roosevelt Elementary, School of the Arts (SOTA,) Science and Math Institute (SAMI,) Sheridan Elementary, Skyline Elementary, Stadium High School, Stanley Elementary, Stewart Middle School, Truman Middle School, Whitman Elementary, Wilson High School.
Sponsor: The Food Connection (St. Leo,) 253-376-4626
Sites: Bergerson Terrace Apartments, Colburn Park, Gallucci Learning Garden, Greenwood 2 Apartments, HUG Urban Farm, Laurel Gardens Apartments, Legacy Park Apartments, Madronne Pointe Apartments, McCarver Park, Mobil Manor, Neighbors Park, Salishan (Tacoma Housing Authority,) Springbrook Park, Tacoma Center YMCA, Tillicum Library, Tyee Park, Tyler Square Apartments, University of Washington-Tacoma Campus.
Sponsor: White River School District, 360-829-6534
Sites: Buckley Youth Activity Center.
Sponsor: YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties, 253-460-8894
Sites: Emerald Ridge High School, Lakewood Family YMCA, Mel Korum Family YMCA, Morgan Family YMCA.
Ryan Tarinelli: 253-597-8670 ryan.tarinelli @thenewstribune.com