Countywide : Free Summer Meals Offered to Children

A summer program that provides free meals to poor children has 67 outlets in Orange County, and needy parents can learn the site nearest to them by calling a toll-free telephone number.

Youths 18 and younger are eligible for the free breakfasts and lunches. The toll-free number is (800) EAT-N-GRO.

"There is no registration required, and all that is needed is to show up and get in line and get food," said Annette Jewell, a coordinator for the Orange County Community Development Council. "All of the sites provide lunches, and some of them provide breakfasts."

Jewell said the 67 outlets currently helping to distribute free meals in the county include churches and city governments, as well as some school districts.

The program is paid for by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The program fills a gap created when school meal programs close for the summer.

Often during the summer, she said, poor parents do not know where they can find lunches for their children.

The federal "Free Summer Food" program helps to solve this problem.

The nonprofit Orange County Community Development Council, which has offices in Garden Grove and Santa Ana, helps to publicize the free-food program.

"The real purpose of this (free-food) program is to help children to return to school physically and mentally able to grow," she said.

"If children are not nourished adequately (during the summer), they are often lethargic and not able to concentrate on their studies."

Jewell urged potential sponsors of additional summer food programs to contact her at the Community Development Council, (714) 897-6670, Ext. 1450.

"We can always use new outlets," she said.

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