Families in search of supplemental meals for their children this summer will still have a no-cost option, thanks to the Artesia Public Schools (APS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Many parents expressed concern last week when visits to the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department’s Summer Meal Program website revealed no local locations. Unfortunately, the Changing Lives Coalition — which had been serving summer lunches since 2016 — was unable to fund a program this year.
The APS, however, announced their summer meal distribution May 30, which is open to all local children ages 1-18. Through that USDA-backed program, children have the opportunity to receive up to 10 meals per week: five breakfasts and five lunches.
“We will be serving those meals all the way through Monday, July 24,” APS Superintendent Thad Phipps said Tuesday.
Children can visit any one of four distribution sites, conveniently located in each area of the city. Park Junior High School serves the north, Zia Intermediate School the south, Grand Heights Early Childhood Center the west, and Roselawn Elementary School the east.
The sites are open from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. each Monday. Children will receive their 10 meals all at one time, and each child must be present for meals to be distributed.
During the week of Independence Day, that schedule will differ slightly. On Monday, June 26, children will receive seven breakfasts and lunches to last them through Tuesday, July 4. Meals for July 5-7 will then be distributed on Wednesday, July 5.
The program comes to an end Monday, July 31, and children will receive 12 meals on July 24 to cover that final Monday, on which distribution will not occur.
Phipps reported that approximately 11,000 meals were served last week to 1,100 children who were able to enjoy the summer free from food insecurity.
“We certainly believe that this program is essential for our kids in Artesia,” Phipps said.