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Free summer lunch starts Tuesday at 31 locations

Making sure that students have at least one nutritional meal week days 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 20 locations in Manteca, five locations in Lathrop, four locations in Weston Ranch and two locations in French Camp.

The program starts Tuesday, June 4. It will run Monday through Friday until July 26. There is no meal service on July 4-5 or weekends

There are no eligibility requirements or identification needed. The only restriction is food must be consumed at the lunch site.

An example member of what is being served Wednesday, June 5, includes an Italian sub sandwich, nacho cheese Doritos, fancy corn salad, and 100 percent fruit juice.

Offered daily are fresh fruit as well as 1 percent fat white milK or non-fat chocolate milk.

There will be BBQ events at various park sites during the next two months. The BBQ includes a 45-minute event that will feature organized activities ,face painting, jump rope, games, story time, and free sport related giveaways.    

All meals are delivered by district personnel driving distinctive school district vehicles with Manteca USD-Nutrition Education logo green lettering and an orange carrot on the side.

“In many cases it is (a youngster’s) only nutritional meal of the day,” noted MUSD Nutritional Education Services Director Patty Page.

Last summer 75,782 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.

More than 60 percent of the district’s 25,000 students qualified for free or reduced meals. That means almost 6 out of 10 children in the community may experience food insecurity.

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 single 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. — Roberts Estates Park on Rail Street, Union West Park on Parkview Street, Raymus Park on Apache Drive, Colony Park on Trailwood Avenue, Diamond Oaks Park on Pestana Avenue, Doxey Park on Northgate Drive, Baccileri Park on Stockton Street

11:30 to 11:50 a.m. —Northgate Park on Hoyt Lane, Tesoro Park on Tesoro Drive, Greystone Park on Agate Avenue, Sequoia Park on Wawona Street,  Franciscan Park on Elm Avenue,  Villa Ticino Park on Geneva Way, Sandpiper Village Park on Pennebaker Avenue,

Noon to 12:20 p.m. — Giles Memorial Park next to the Boys & Girls Club on Alameda Street, Chadwick Square Park on London Avenue, Library Park on Center Street, Lincoln Park on Powers Avenue, Woodward Park on Woodward Avenue, Shasta Park on Edison Street  

Lathrop locations are:

11 to 11:20 a.m. — Sangalang Park on Slate Street, Libby Park on Libby Lane, Generations  Skate Park across from Lathrop High

11:30 to 11:50 a.m. — Park West Park on Shelter Cove Circle

Noon to 12:20 p.m. —  Mossdale Landing Park on Towne Center Drive, Valverde Park on Fifth Street

Weston Ranch locations are:

11 to 11:20 a.m. —Paul E. Weston Park on EWS Woods Boulevard

11:30 to 11:50 a.m. — Smith Park on Moss Boulevard,  Long Park on Woodchase Lane

Noon to 12:20 p.m. — Weston Ranch Library on French Camp Road,   

The French Camp locations are from 12 to 12:20 p.m. at the two migrant farm housing parks.

If you have questions contact Nutrition Education at 858.0778.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email