As 1 in 5 King County kids go hungry, free lunches go uneaten

United Way's Lauren McGowan talks about the "Summer Food Invasion" free kids lunch program

Half a dozen kids playing at Judkins Park suddenly stop and run over to a table that volunteers are setting up.

"Is it lunch time yet?" asks one child.

"Can I have a sandwich?" asks another. "I like the sandwiches they have."


"Stay in line," says Ms. Smith.

Smith, who declined to give her full name, takes care of neighborhood children during the day, often bringing them to eat the free lunches offered at the park this summer.

As she nods toward the street, Smith says the meals are critical.

"There's kids coming from homeless families living in cars at the park. This is one of the only meals that they know of."

Local charities and volunteers are providing free summer lunches to kids and teens.

The local groups are reimbursed by the USDA's child nutrition program, which also funds free or reduced lunches throughout the school year.

But each year there's a lot of federal money left on the table.

Families aren't taking advantage of the Summer Food Invasion program, probably because they don't know about it. About 100,000 students in King County rely on free meals during the schools year, but less than 20 percent of them get free meals during the summer, according to United Way's Lauren McGowan.

One in five King County kids is going hungry.

McGowan is trying to get the word out so kids can have a healthy start when they go to school this fall. 

"You don't have to sign any forms. You just show up and have a meal," she said.

The lunches are offered at several King County locations.

"It's needed," said Smith, looking at the children playing, "for the kids."

© 2017 KING-TV


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment