KING COUNTY - A free meal program is available for kids and teens during the summer that many families may not know about. The United Way is trying to get the word out about the service for any child under 18 years that is paid for with federal dollars.
In King County, about 99,000 kids take part in free and reduced lunch programs during the school year. But when school is out for summer break only one in seven kids take advantage of the free meal program.
“We were homeless last summer. It was interesting," said Laura Norris, 6-year-old Keith Thomes’ grandmother.
The family of four on a fixed income first heard about the free meals at the library this summer. Keith goes to a park in Lake City everyday to get a healthy lunch and snack.
“It’s been a wonderful help because we’ve run out of food stamps by the last week of the month, so it’s tough to make ends meet,” said Norris.
“Programs like this can make all the difference in the world. We know that families spend over $300 extra per month to put food on the table. This is the difference between food on the table, lights on, roof over head,” said Lauren McGowan with the United Way.
The United Way of King County said the Walmart Foundation to National League of Cities was a vital part of these summer meal programs by donating an additional $60,000.
Once the new school year starts, the United Way will work with after-school programs like the Boys and Girls Club and YMCA to continue handing out free meals.