Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- In the final weeks of summer break, Three Square Food Bank wants to remind parents that it's not too late to get their kids fed for free through the Summer Food Service Program.
It's paid for by the federal government through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Three Square said it's around this time in the summer, when participation in the program declines for various reasons. That's troubling to food bank officials because they said they know there are thousands of kids going hungry in the community.
Three Square has partnered with community sites such as Clark County libraries and recreation centers that hold summer activities for kids that give out these free meals. There are about 100 open meal sites in Clark County where parents don't even have to sign their kids up. All they have to do is have their children show up and they'll get fed a free breakfast and/or lunch, depending on the site.
"We always look for ways in which we can improve upon what we do," said Jodi Tyson, of Three Square Food Bank. "We want these meals to be accessible to all kids who are hungry."
It's easy for parents to find out where the closest open meal site is in their neighborhood. They can call 1-866-3-HUNGRY and talk to a live person on the phone between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. Outside of those hours, there is a recording and a worker will return the call.
There is also a hotline in Spanish at 1-877-8-HAMBRE. Parents can also find out locations online.
A USDA spokesperson said in Nevada, only six percent of students who participate in the national lunch program during the school year participate in the summer lunch program. The USDA would like to increase that percentage so that more kids are getting the nutrition they need.
"Eating is essential and particularly during the summer, many of our children don't have adequate nutrition," said Gregory Parham, Assistant Secretary for the USDA. "So one of the things the USDA is fundamentally interested in doing is making sure we have these kind of feeding programs in place, so that if you think about it, eating is essential and feeding is fundamental."
This year, the summer food service program will continue to serve lunch and/or breakfast at these open meal sites throughout the community through Aug. 22.