SAN FRANCISCO, CA – As another school year comes to an end during the coronavirus pandemic, some parents in San Francisco may be wondering how to make up for the meals their children lose when the last bell rings.

Summer is a busy time for millions of US families. During the school year, more than 22 million children rely on the National School Lunch program for free and discounted meals, according to Feeding America, one of the country’s largest famine relief organizations.

However, during the summer months, only 4 million of these children receive meals through the US Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service program.

That’s a gap of nearly 18 million children, many of whom aren’t sure where their meals will be coming from this summer.

Fortunately, there are summer meals to fill those gaps in San Francisco.

At least two cards will help parents find summer meals near San Francisco.

The USDA Meals for Kids Site Finder was set up to help kids, parents, and others quickly and easily find summer meals near them. The Site Finder is a website that works on phones, tablets, and computers. No app download is required.

The tool lets you enter an address, city, state, or zip code to find up to 50 restaurants nearby. Each listing also includes the website address, hours of operation, contact information, and instructions.

Here’s a summer meal in San Francisco:

  • James Lick Middle School, 1220 Noe St., San Francisco, CA 94114; Phone: 415-918-0115; Open: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.

Another helpful tool is available through No Kid Hungry, who last year launched a Free Meals Finder card that makes it easy for families to find the closest meal distribution point.

The map, available in both English and Spanish, is updated daily to accommodate new websites where families with difficulty can pick up a free meal.

Here is a page of summer dishes listed on No Kid Hungry’s map:

  • Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 999 Brotherhood Way, San Francisco, CA 94132; Open: Saturdays from 11.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

More than a year after the coronavirus pandemic began, millions of Americans still face food insecurity, according to Feeding America. Nationwide, food banks saw consumption increase nearly 55 percent during the pandemic, and Feeding America estimates that food insecurity could affect up to 42 million people in 2021.

According to Feeding America, the country’s largest famine relief organization, an estimated 12.8 percent of San Francisco’s people will be starving due to the pandemic in 2021, up from 10.5 percent in 2019.

However, food insecurity and real hunger do not look the same.

In households with unsafe diets, parents often have to choose between buying groceries and paying their utilities and other bills. You or older siblings can skip meals so younger children can eat.

Around 13 million American children are not only food unsafe. You are really hungry. Real hunger is painful and can make children drowsy and sluggish. If their brains are not full, they are not ready to learn.

Hunger also has serious long-term health consequences. Children who are not given enough healthy foods are at higher risk for chronic diseases such as asthma and anemia, and are also more likely to develop behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, anxiety, and aggression.

Learn more about the dangers of childhood hunger on the Feeding America website.

Other ways to find summer meals

According to Feeding America, there are a few other ways to find the closest free meal this summer:

  • Text: You can find food programs near you by sending the word FOOD to 877-877 thanks to our friends at No Kid Hungry. You will receive a message with locations nearby. Data and message rates can apply.
  • Call: Calling the USDA helpline at 866-348-6479 will also find free summer food service programs near you.
  • Ask your local grocery bank: use the grocery bank locator to find a zip code or state and contact the grocery bank closest to you. Often times, even when the grocery bank looks far away, it works with dining programs that are closer to your home.

Feeding America serves 200 member food banks serving 60,000 pantries, kitchens, and dining programs nationwide.

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PHOTO CREDIT: Patch / Shutterstock

Patch has partnered with Feeding America to help raise awareness of the millions of Americans who are starving. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that by 2021, more than 42 million Americans will not have enough nutritious foods to eat due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a social patch project. Feeding America receives 100 percent of donations. * Find out how to donate in your community or find a pantry near you.