Free/Reduced Lunch Program
The National School Lunch and Breakfast Program funds participating school meal programs by reimbursing schools for feeding children at low or no cost based on specific eligibility criteria. OSPI Child Nutrition Services administers these programs for Washington State and provides comprehensive information for districts about funding for lunch, breakfast, snack, dinner, and other programs, and a wealth of other resources.
Summer Meal Programs
In Washington State, OSPI administers the Summer Food Service Program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. The program serves children age 18 and under in low-income communities where at least 50% of children are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals. An overview of the program is provided in the Summer Food Service Program Reference Sheet, or call 1-866-EAT-MEAL (1-866-328-6325).
Contact: Jennifer Mitchell, OSPI Summer Food and Special Projects Supervisor
School Pantry Programs
Students who rely on free and reduced meal programs can go hungry during school breaks. The Foothills Food Bank Winter and Spring Break Pantry Program in rural Whatcom County is a school/community partnership to make sure no child goes hungry. Volunteers deliver boxes of food that kids can prepare themselves to participating families.
How to Run a Food Drive
Many school families rely on food banks, and school food drives are a great way for kids to learn about hunger and contribute to their community. The University of Rhode Island has an excellent guide on planning a food drive, with tips for how to make it fun.
Food Access Resources
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a.k.a. Basic Food or Food Stamps) is the foundation of preventing hunger. An informative brochure about food assistance is available in many languages.
The Opportunity Council’s Community Resource Directory is a user-friendly on-line database for Island, San Juan, and Whatcom Counties. Find resources for food, housing, and more. Download the guide for Whatcom County free food in Spanish and English.
The Skagit County Community Action Agency is the resource for low-income families in Skagit. Download the guide to food resources: Community Action of Skagit County: Food Banks and Meal Programs.