RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - At the Neil Road Recreational Center, dozens kids lined up at 8:30 a.m. Monday to get their bagels and milk. The breakfast was provided by Kids Cafe through the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.
"It's really important that kids are connected with these meals," says Jocelyn Lantrip, Director or Marketing and Communications for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.
For many kids in Washoe County, these Kids Cafe meals are the only way they will get fed meals now that the Washoe County School District is on break. But not enough children are taking part in the program.
"We know that there are thousands of kids that aren't taking advantage of Kids Cafe that are truly eligible for these meals," says Lantrip. "In Washoe County, about 47 percent of our children qualify for free or reduced school lunch. That's very high. Nearly 30,000 children and we see an average of about 2,100 kids that take advantage of Kids Cafe."
Lantrip believes one big reason more families aren't taking advantage of the free meals is that there are misconceptions about who can actually take part.
"The program is open to any child. All you need to do is show up to one of the sites at the time and be a child between one and 18 and you can have a meal. There isn't any paperwork to do, so it's really easy. The only rule is you have to eat the meal on site," says Lantrip, who explains that some parents also believe that their child has to be enrolled in the program where the meal is served. She points out that they do not.
At the Washoe County School District's Nutrition Services Center, Assistant Director Mike Supple knows what an impact the meals during the school year have on students. And he knows that, during breaks like this one, there are many students who are going hungry without a school cafeteria to serve them.
"I encourage them to look for where they're feeding meals and take advantage of those meals over the next two weeks," says Supple.
Lantrip encourages families who are learning about these free meals to spread the word to their friends.
"If you know somebody that could really use this program, let them know," she says.
Free meals will be served to children at four locations: the Neil Road Recreational Center, the Evelyn Mount Northeast Community Center, the Lemmon Valley Boys & Girls Club at Joe Mitchell Center, and the Plumas Gym. Breakfast will be served from 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. and lunch will be served from 12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. (except Plumas Gym: 11:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.) Monday - Friday, March 20 - March 31, 2017.
Kids Cafe meals are supported in part by the USDA's Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program.