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Summer Food Program Helps Bridge A Gap

OPB | Aug. 19, 2014 12:06 p.m. | Updated: Aug. 19, 2014 3:04 p.m.

Linus, Ada and Cody eat their free summer meal in Peninsula Park.

Linus, Ada and Cody eat their free summer meal in Peninsula Park.

Allison Frost / OPB

If you’re a kid who qualifies for free or reduced lunch, during the school year you’re likely getting lunch and maybe even breakfast at school. But what happens in the summer? Too often, says child hunger activist Annie Kirschner, kids fall through the cracks. Kirschner works with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, and she says even though the Summer Food Program now has more than 600 sites across the state, only about 20 percent of eligible kids get meals through the program.

As the summer winds down, we’ll broadcast live from Peninsula Park in north Portland, one of the many places where kids can come to get a free lunch, and if they want, get involved in a camp or other activity. We’ll talk with Annie Kirschner and some families who use the program, and find out what the impact is on their lives and where the gaps still remain.

Do you or your kids qualify for free or reduced lunch during the school year? Have you gotten lunch from one of the Summer Meals sites around Oregon? What difference does this program make for your family? How could it be more accessible?

Pictures from Peninsula Park and the community center. The park is one of more than 600 sites where summer meals are distributed to kids ages 1-18.

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