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The city of San Diego began offering free lunches Tuesday for children in need and will do so throughout the summer to help meet the needs of the community, especially those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city is partnering with the San Diego Parks Foundation, Feeding San Diego and Albertsons Companies’ Nourishing Neighbors program to help feed children.

Members of the public will be able to pick up prepared “to-go” lunch and breakfast for children ages 18 and under at a dozen city recreation centers throughout the summer. To keep the public and staff safe, meals will be made available outside of recreation centers and parents can pick up meals with no registration or income verification required.

Parents will need to have a facial covering when picking up meals and children do not need to be present for parents to receive meals.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer this important program to residents who need meals during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Andy Field, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “Providing healthy food options for families with limited resources during the pandemic is especially important at this time.”

The recreation centers offering food are Cesar Chavez, Encanto, Golden Hill, M.L. King, Jr., Montgomery Waller, Mountain View, Paradise Hills, San Ysidro, Silver Wing, South Bay, Southcrest and Willie Henderson.

The hours of service are from noon to 1 p.m. and the menu changes daily.

The San Diego Parks Foundation received a $50,000 grant from the Albertsons Companies’ Nourishing Neighbors program to support the free lunch program.

“This help from Albertsons, Vons and Pavilions and their generous customers is the lifeline that we desperately need as the city responds to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marcella Bothwell, treasurer and founding board member of the San Diego Parks Foundation. “We are grateful to be part of Nourishing Neighbors Family. The support, partnership and generosity are truly making a difference.”

In the past the city has partnered with San Diego Unified and Sweetwater school districts to provide free lunches to children during the summer. More than 1.3 million meals have been served in city parks since 2003, officials said.

For more information about the 2020 Summer Lunch program, visit sandiegoparksfoundation.org. Additional information about food distribution programs throughout San Diego County is available by calling 211 or visiting feedingsandiego.org/get-help.

–City News Service

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