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Free summer lunch offered at 44 sites
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Making sure that students have at least one nutritional meal weekdays during summer break has proven an effective way to make sure hunger doesn’t undo academic gains.
It is why Manteca Unified is offering free Nutrition Education Summer Meals for children ages 2 to 18 at 32 locations in Manteca, six locations in Lathrop, six locations in Weston Ranch and one in French Camp.
The program started Monday. It will run Monday through Friday until July 28. There is no meal service on July 3 or July 4.
There are no eligibility requirements or identification needed. The only restriction is food must be consumed at the lunch site.
Typically the sack lunch consists of a sandwich, stone fruit, vegetables and milk.
There will be BBQ events at various park sites during the next two months. The BBQ includes a 45-minute event that will include cook demonstrations, games, and community information such as police K9 presentations.
All meals are delivered by district personnel driving distinctive green school district vehicles with the Manteca USD-Nutrition Education logo and an orange carrot on the side.
On the first day, 1,700 lunches were served. As the weeks roll on that number is expected to reach 2.500 a day.
“In many cases it is (a youngster’s) only nutritional meal of the day,” noted MUSD Nutritional Education Services Director Patty Page.
Twenty-eight employees help prepare and deliver the meals.
Last summer 98,643 meals were served. All meals include locally grown fresh fruit as well as meet strict United States Department of Agriculture nutritional regulations.
District leaders have noted students who have good nutritional meals and aren’t hungry are better behaved, have better attention, and retain more of what they learn. Retention of learning is one of the driving forces behind the federal effort to make sure kids have at least one nutritional meal Monday through Friday during the summer.
During the school year that just ended, 58.76 percent of the district’s 24,000 students qualified for free or reduced meals.
Much of the financial stress within the Manteca Unified boundaries is driven by the fact that housing is exceptionally expensive in Manteca and Lathrop for San Joaquin Valley communities. City of Manteca research shows that under federal standards  nearly half  of the city’s households are stressed when it comes to housing expenses including utilities and such because more than 30 percent of their overall household income goes to housing. That is a direct result of sky-high housing prices in the Bay Area that are sending buyers east over the Altamont Pass to look for options that are affordable for them.
The free and reduced lunch program uses a sliding scale to determine eligibility. For example, a household with four in it making $31,525 a year qualifies for free student meals. A family of four with an annual household income between $31,526 and $44,863 is eligible for reduced meals. A singe parent with a child that makes less than $20,709 qualifies for free meals while those making between $20,710 and $29,471 qualify for reduced meals.
Manteca locations for the summer lunch program are as follows:
11 to 11:20 a.m. — Villa Ticino Park on Geneva Way, Doxey Park on Northgate Drive, Primavera Park on Primavera Avenue, Cotta Park on Mission Ridge Drive,  Diamond Oaks Park on Pestana Avenue, Springport Park on Pestana Avenue, Tesoro Park on Tesoro Drive, Roberts Estates Park on Rail Street
11:30 to 11:50 a.m. —, Chadwick Square Park on London Avenue, Colony Park on Trailwood Avenue, Rodini Park on Lucio Street, Union West Park on Parkview Street, Manteca High swimming pool, Northgate Park on Hoyt Lane, Sandpiper Village on Pennebaker Avenue, Woodward Park on Woodward Avenue  
Noon to 12:20 p.m. — Raymus Park on Apache Drive, Hildebrand Park on Pine Street, Shasta Park on Edison Street, Morenzone Ballfield on Center Street, Baccileri Park on Stockton Street, St. Francis Park on Devonshire Avenue, preckels BMX Park on Spreckels Avenue, Quail Ridge Park on Mission Ridge Drive
12:30 to 12:50 p.m. — Springtime Park on Springtime Avenue, Giles Memorial Park next to the Boys & Girls Club on Alameda Street, Greystone Park on Agate Avenue, Library Park on Center Street, Franciscan Park on Elm Avenue, Lincoln Park on Powers Avenue,  Mayors Park on Kelley Drive, Sequoia Park on Wawona Street
Lathrop locations are:
11 to 11:20 a.m. — Park West Park on Shelter Cove Circle
11:30 to 11:50 a.m. — Mossdale Landing Park on Towne Center Drive
Noon to 12:20 p.m. —  Generations Park across from Lathrop High, Valverde Park on Fifth Street
12:30 to 12:50 p.m. —  Libby Park on Libby Lane, Sangalang Park on Slate Street
Weston Ranch locations are:
11 to 11:20 a.m. — St. George Parish, 144 W. Fifth St., SmithPpark on Moss Boulevard
11:30 to 11:50 a.m. — Paul E. Weston Park on EWS Woods Boulevard
Noon to 12:20 p.m. — Long Park on Woodchase Lane
12:30 to 12:50 p.m. — Weston Ranch Library on French Camp Road,  
The French Camp location is from 11:30 to 11:50 a.m. at the Good Shepherd Church on French Camp Road.
If you have questions contact Nutrition Education at 858.0778.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email