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6/18/2014 6:00:00 AM
Goal: No hungry Arizona kids this summer
Arizona served 1.1 million meals to children in low-income areas of the state last summer. That was still just a fraction of the number of kids who qualify for free or reduced-price meals during the school year. (TIFFANY MARTIN/Cronkite News)
Arizona served 1.1 million meals to children in low-income areas of the state last summer. That was still just a fraction of the number of kids who qualify for free or reduced-price meals during the school year. (TIFFANY MARTIN/Cronkite News)
Lunch Program Information
Free lunches for children 18 years and younger are served:

Monday through Thursday through June 26 at:

• Mt. Tipton School, 16500 Pierce Ferry Road in Dolan Springs, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

• White Cliffs Middle School, 3550 Prospector St., 11 a.m. to noon.

Monday through Friday through July 3 at:

• Hualapai Elementary School, 350 Eastern St., 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Monday through Thursday through July 24 at:

• Kingman Middle School, 1969 Detroit Ave., 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Monday through Friday through July 25 at:

• Cerbat Elementary School, 2689 Jagerson Ave., 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• Palo Christi Elementary School, 500 Maple St., 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

• Manzanita Elementary School, 2601 Detroit Ave., 11 a.m. to noon.

• Boys & Girls Club of Kingman, 301 N. First St., noon to 1 p.m.

• Kingman High School, 4182 Bank St., 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

By Miranda Rivers
Cronkite News

KINGMAN - Arizona's Summer Food Service Program served 1.1 million meals to children in low-income areas of the state last year, but still reached only a fraction of kids targeted for the program.

As they gear up for this summer, state officials hope to improve on last year's service, which reached 14.9 percent of the kids who would be eligible for free or reduced-price meals during the school year, the target group for the program.

They have the resources to do better - the U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses all meals served by approved sponsors. The challenge is getting the kids to the meals.

"In the rural areas, especially, there are entire towns that don't have a Summer Food Service site, because not all schools are sites," said Brian Simpson, spokesman for the Association of Arizona Food Banks. "There needs to be more of an outreach effort to get more sites on board and more sponsors on board."



In Kingman, Caleb Nez got more than a free lunch Monday when he showed up to eat with his sister at Manzanita Elementary School.

Caleb, 5, was the winner of the first of four drawings for a shiny Razor scooter that the Kingman Unified School District was giving out as part of its summer food program.

The other three scooter drawings, as well as mini-drawing with small prizes, will take place throughout the remainder of the program.

"This was a nice surprise," said Charyl Nez, the boy's mother, who regularly takes Caleb and his 2-year-old sister, Callie Nez, to lunch at White Cliffs Middle School. "This is a good program, and it gives Caleb time to hang out with his friends. He has lunch dates and stays connected to the kids."

The summer program feeds children 18 years and under for free with no questions asked about income or need. Adults can eat with their children for $3 per meal. The cost of the meals, which are prepared at the district's central kitchen and transported to each site, is mostly reimbursed by the Arizona Department of Education at $3.01 per lunch. The district will pay about $1,000 this year to cover costs.

The program has grown this year, said Paula Loomis, director of food services for KUSD, from six school sites and the Boys & Girls Club last year to eight school sites and the club this year. Loomis said White Cliffs Middle School and Palo Christi Elementary School were added this year.

Also, the number of children eating in the program has increased, said Loomis. Last year, about 300 children a day took advantage of the free service. This year, that number has grown to about 500 children a day at the various sites. All the meals are inspected and regulated for carbohydrates, proteins, saturated fat and sodium.

"Out of our school district of about 7,000 children, 69 percent are eating free and reduced meals during the school year," said Loomis, noting that percentage is high in Arizona but not the highest. "So that shows the need here. What do these kids do during the summer? With the economy the way it is, the program has grown. We're definitely pleased to see families using it like they are."

A report by the Food Research and Action Center said the number of sites in Arizona fell from 418 in 2012 to 402 in 2013. That report, "Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report 2014," also ranked Arizona 24th among states for its ability to reach 14.9 percent of low-income children last summer.

While that was better than the state's 13 percent reach in the summer of 2012, it was still well below the Agriculture Department's goal for every state of 40 percent.

(Miner reporter Kim Steele contributed to this report.)

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@Jones S

"It's brilliant, and I applaud the legislators who pushed it through"

Then i am sure you would have no objection at all if legislation is proposed that will reduce the amount of state welfare funds a family using this program recieve in order to offset the cost of the states welfare program........right?

The family certainly does not need the welfare money for food every month that they will not be providing for their kids.



Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Article comment by: J L

I pay taxes and I am happy that children can eat free in this summer lunch program. No one knows what is going on in the lives of these children. Knowing that children who can't otherwise get a decent meal can go and get one makes me feel great. We as a society can't pick and choose which kids get a meal and which don't. These are our children and I think KUSD is finally in the right direction on this one.

Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@AN

"You absolutely have no idea of how the school lunch program works, do you?"

Because unlike you he does not believe that the money to provide lunches during the summer to kids whose parents will not feed their own kids just magically appears out of thin air?


Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014
Article comment by: V Stokes

Unless a family can walk to the school for the meal...how can it possibly be cheaper than just making a simple lunch

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014
Article comment by: Talking Tina

Great Program with the high price of groceries this summer lunch program helps out with family food budget.

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew


@LA“I say this because I'm unafraid of criticism…”

That’s a good thing considering the massive amounts of misinformation you post here daily.

“…it has been shown we often actually LACK iodized salt in our systems?”

Could you please direct us to where this bunch of hokum appears? Thank you.

“…I have probably fed more children on my dime that weren't my own children including taking them in then most.”

Of course you have. Always a little apocryphal tale to go along with every comment.


Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014
Article comment by: Enough Already

Jones S:

You miss the point entirely. People get food stamps to buy food with for their families.

Then to go eat free food every day after already receiving food stamps for that same purpose is just wrong.

They should choose. Get the free lunches and not the stamps or the other way around.

What's next, they come to your house, prepare it for your kids, then do the dishes for you while the kids are eating?

What has happened to us?


Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: Jones S

People complain alot about food stamps and misuse of government programs. Do you realize, with this program, THERE CAN BE NO MISUSE???? It's perfect, because the program FEEDS (not gives money to) people it's intended for (CHILDREN). This isn't food stamps that can be sold or money that can be used to buy alcohol/drugs. This actual FOOD for KIDS.

It's brilliant, and I applaud the legislators who pushed it through.


Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: Not Complaining

They have free, and reduced lunches for the elderly, paid by the taxpayers. Yet no one complains about that?? To turn this great program for our children into another ranting session about illegals and food stamps is pathetic. If you read comments in the Bullhead, or Havasu papers, you see none of this. Kingman wins hands down for grouchiest residents in Mohave County!

Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: mr. parker

Well, will more kids of AZ citizens and legal residents have to go without to feed the kids from the invasion on the border? An American Marine remains in a Mexican jail but thousands of children from central America can walk right up to the border and they're let right in.
What a mess.

I have no objection to the schools remaining open for activities over the summer. But I really can't understand why the parent(s) or guardians can't afford to make a lunch for their kids. Why should they if Big Education will do it for them. It just teaches kids to be dependent on the almighty government.

I spent summers on a rez when I was in grade school with my cousins. There was always food and while I know some was from food stamps, it was prepared at home and we always ate at home.

To the Nez family: were you related to Chester Nez? If so, you should be proud, if not you should read about him.


Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: another parent

As a mom in a family that has 2 parents who work hard to provide for our kids and pay taxes, I enjoy this program. My kids do not qualify for free lunches during school, they pack their lunch and occasionally I allow them to purchase a lunch. This summer program can be help for those families that are still struggling. Or maybe it is a place that the kids can meet up with friends and each a balanced meal. I pay a lot of taxes and I enjoy my kids being able to use this program. A lot of you talk about this being a babysitting service or another "food stamp" thing and it's not. I don't think there can ever be a program that helps the community that you won't complain about is there?!

Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Athens

Noone is for kids going hungry but why is this called a success when taxes are paying for this and it overlaps other govt programs undoubtedly already buying their food for home. Oh wait, the parent has to prepare that her/himself.

I say this because I'm unafraid of criticism and this is another case where govt steps in and makes people govt dependent. WIC also provides milk, etc.

And, you don't even have to qualify by income now? Sort of like a baby sitting proposition, isn't it? You send them, they cook and feed your progeny for free. Taxes pay.

An added bonus, they check for fat and salt content. Did you know, it has been shown we often actually LACK iodized salt in our systems? And the latest? Fat doesn't cause heart disease? But of course, we do need govt telling us what foods to eat - no better, get it and prepare it for us.

Where does personal responsibility come in? Is the govt falling short of providing birth control now for us now? So we are having children we can't feed so they take care of that also?Cloward/Piven at work.

Can't you see that LG-D? Loss of freedom to be personally responsible.

Before you rat me out, I have probably fed more children on my dime that weren't my own children including taking them in then most.


Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: tax payer

Low income people are on food stamps which are to pay for the children's food. Why does the tax paying people have to pay for food stamps and free lunches. These families are double dipping in the coffers of the tax payers. Lets make the parents use the food stamps for what they are for, to buy food for there kids.

Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: Justa Citizen

Whether you agree with this program or not, I wish everyone would quit referring to it as a "free" lunch.
IT IS NOT FREE!

With this particular program, taxpayer dollars are used to pay for it, I assume.

Personally, I am not in favor of this program in general, but at least if they are going to do it, put some restrictions on it.

I'm guessing it is a lot easier for some of these parents to send their kids somewhere else than it is to be a parent and fix it themselves. Some of these programs around the country supply breakfast and lunch and, during the school year, actually send food home for the weekend. Also, if the parents are paying $3, they could probably stay home and fix their kids a lunch that would cost less than the $3 and gas it takes to go to the school and teach their kids how to do for themselves.

I also wonder how many of these kids and their parents have cable tv, fancy cell phones, the latest in fancy electronic games, etc, etc. etc.



Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

@Stressed

You absolutely have no idea of how the school lunch program works, do you?


Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: Stressed Financially

It is interesting to me that they can give kids free lunches in the summer, but during the school year they charge (too much for what they get) for lunches.
Parents are already over taxed with buying school supplies, and uniforms. The teachers are always asking for more and more from us.
Why not give all the parents a break during the school year on lunches?
(not just the low income families to be fair)




Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: Laurie Voss Barthlow

This is a good program. Kudos to you, Paula Loomis, for taking it on and handling it for the third year.



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