Now that summer is here, school districts across Yakima County are serving free meals to children.
In Yakima County, 83.3% of public school students qualify for free or reduced meals, according to data from Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
As summer breaks begin, however, the 43,900 students in the county who qualify for those free or reduced lunches will be without the food security that school year meals can provide.
Ten of Yakima County’s school districts are tackling this issue by offering some form of summer meal programs.
“We’re excited to serve the community,” said Child Nutrition Director Cassie Davidson of the program she oversees for the Yakima School District. “Every child from 1 to 18 is entitled to a free meal.”
Like many school districts in Yakima and the Lower Valley, Yakima School District is offering free breakfasts and lunch to all children under the age of 18 – students and non-students alike.
“The meals we serve are well balanced,” Davidson said. “USDA has regulations that it requires us to follow. ”
Zillah School District Food Service Director Cecily Widner said more children were involved in the summer meal program last year during the pandemic. One of the regulations from the USDA is that children must eat meals on site.
“The program not allowing families to take meals is a deterrent,” Widner said.
Many students are eating the free meals, though, and Widner hopes more children will come as word about the programs spreads.
These are the details for summer meal programs:
- Meals will be available at eight sites in Grandview starting June 22. At seven of those sites, only lunch will be served until Aug. 4 at Westside Community Park from 11:30 am-1 pm, ABC Daycare from 12: 20-12: 45 pm, Water Tower Park from 11: 15-11: 30 am, Dykstra Park West End from 11: 35-11: 50 am, Grandridge MHC from 12: 50-1: 10 pm, Sor Juana Ines Apartments from 12-12: 15 pm and Eastside Park from 1: 15-1: 30 pm Grandview Middle School is only serving meals until July 22, but will have breakfast from 7: 45-8: 15 am and lunch from 11:30 am-12: 30 pm All summer meal sites in Grandview will be closed for July 4. Updates can be found on the Grandview School District website
- Granger Middle School will host the school district’s site from June 20 to July 14, Monday through Thursday, except for July 4. Breakfast will be served from 8: 30-9 am and lunch from 11-11: 30 am Exact times are different for students and the public. More information can be found on the Granger School District’s website
- Mabton School District has two sites at which it is serving breakfast from 8-8: 30 am and lunch from 11:15 am to noon. Artz-Fox Elementary School will have summer meals from June 20 to July 29, while Mabton Jr / Sr High School will serve food from June 20 to July 22.
- In Selah, breakfast will be served from 8: 15-8: 45 am and lunch from 12-12: 30 pm every Monday through Thursday. Meals will be available from July 11 to Aug. 4 at John Campbell Primary.
- Sunnyside school district will serve meals at five schools and two community sites
- in June, July and August. Washington Elementary School, Pioneer Elementary School, Harrison Middle School, Sierra Vista Middle School and Sunnyside High School will have breakfast from 7:30 am to 8:30 am and lunch from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm Those meals will be available Monday through Thursday from June 27 to July 21.
- Central Park and the Sunnyside Community Center will have lunch from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm, but will be open Monday through Friday from June 20 to Aug. 12
- In Toppenish, meals will be available at four locations. According to information from the Toppenish School District website, all meals must be eaten at the site where they are distributed. Further details can be found here
- From June 27 to July 28, Valley View Elementary School will serve two meals a day from Monday to Thursday. Those meals will be a morning snack, from 10-10: 20 am and lunch from noon to 1:20 pm
- Kirkwood Elementary School will also begin serving two meals a day on June 27 breakfast from 8-8: 30 am and lunch from noon to 1 pm That schedule changes in July from July 5 to July 28, kids can eat a lunch from 11-11 : 30 am and an afternoon snack from 1: 15-1: 30 pm
- Beginning June 28 and ending July 21, Lincoln Elementary will have lunch from 11-11: 30 am and an afternoon snack from 1: 30-1: 50 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
- For one week – June 28 to July 1 – Toppenish High School will have breakfast from 8-8: 30 am and lunch from 11:30 am to noon
- A fifth site, at Safe Haven, will be a morning snack and lunch from June 28 to July 21, but will be closed to the public.
- Free breakfast and lunch will be served in Union Gap from June 27 to July 22. Breakfast will be served from 7: 45-8: 45 am Lunch will be served from 11:15 am-12: 30 pm
- In Wapatobreakfast will be available from 7-8: 30 am and lunch will be available from 11 am-12: 30 pm at Simcoe Elementary School, Adams Elementary School and Wapato High School.
- Meals will be served from June 27 to July 28 four days a week, from Monday to Thursday. There will be no meals July 4.
- Meals will be available at three sites Monday-Thursday each week from June 27 through July 28, except on Monday, July 4, when the program will be closed in recognition of Independence Day. The three sites include Simcoe and Adams Elementary Schools and Wapato High School. Breakfast will be served 7-8: 30 am and Lunch from 11 am-12: 30 pm This information can also be found
- Yakima School District will serve free meals at 30 sites this summer.
- Breakfast and lunch will be served Monday through Friday at Barge Lincoln, Garfield, Martin Luther King, McKinley, Nob Hill and Ridgeview Elementary Schools from June 23 to July 15. McClure Elementary School is only operating as a summer meal program site from June 27 to July 1.
- Eisenhower High School, Davis High School and Stanton Academy will have free breakfast and lunch from June 21 to July 15, while Yakima Valley Tech will have the same meals from June 20 to July 8. All three will also be operating during weekdays.
- Gilbert and Whitney Elementary Schools are closed to the public and will only serve the students in their summer programs on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The summer meal program site will be in operation from June 21 to July 17 at Gilbert and June 21 to July 13 at Whitney.
- Sixteen community and mobile sites will also be in operation. From June 21 to July 29, children can find free meals at Henry Beauchamp Community Center, Kissel Park, Miller Park, Cascade Apartments, McGuiness Park, Milroy Park, Robertson Elementary’s back parking lot, Cherry Park, Nueva Apartments, 1st Baptist Church, Fair Avenue Apartments, Kiwanis Park, Hoover Elementary, Elite Academy, Viola Apartments and Martin Luther King Jr. Park from June 21 to July 29 every weekday. Gardner Park will also have free meals on weekdays, but is operating from July 18 to July 29.
- Most sites will have food available for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the meal. You can find a
- Zillah will have meals at two locations – Hilton Elementary School and Zillah Intermediate School – from June 14 to July 1. Free meals will be available at Hilton from 10: 45-11: 20 am and at Zillah Intermediate from 11-11: 25 am
- Highland, Naches Valley, Mt. Adams, West Valley and East Valley School districts will not have summer meal programs this year. Highland School District has no summer school program and is therefore not featuring a meal program. Mt. Adams is facing staffing shortages while West Valley typically does not run a summer meal program – last summer’s food distribution was due to the pandemic.
Jasper Kenzo Sundeen’s reporting for the Yakima Herald-Republic is possible with support from Report for America and community members through the Yakima Valley Community Fund. These stories can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s city editor.