WATSONVILLE — During the school year, free lunches provided to low-income children are frequently the only meals they get.
When the final bell heralds in the beginning of summer, so too do those meals.
But thanks to a program run by La Manzana Community Resources, those kids can still get their lunch, and outdoor activities to go along with it.
The organization offers free hot meals at 10 sites in Watsonville and two in North County.
In past years, program officials say they served as many as 14,000 meals to children at 10 South County sites and two in North County. Any child under 18 can show up for a meal.
As a child, Summer Lunch Program Assistant Sonia Leonor said she got her summer lunches through the program, and took her cousins there.
“It has been part of our community for many years,” she said.
In addition to the meals, children who show up can also participate in physical activities, and games. Organizers provide equipment such as jump ropes and balls, Leonor said.
“It’s a safe place for the children of our community to come and have fun and a hot meal,” she said.
The program also offers nutrition information for parents, where they can learn how to make nutritious meals and snacks.
La Manzana Community Resources is reimbursed for most of the meal costs, sourced from state and federal funding. But activities above and beyond feeding kids are heavily reliant on donations from the public.
For information, or to make a donation, visit communitybridges.org/lmcr or call 724-2997, extension 204.
La Manzana Community Resources, a program of Community Bridges, has been sponsoring the Summer Food Service Program in Santa Cruz County for the past 25 years.
June 11-Aug. 3
• La Manzana Community Resources, 521 Main St., Mon.–Fri., 12–1 p.m.
• Stone Creek Apartments, 300 Bree Lane, Mon.–Fri., 12–1 p.m.
• Pajaro Park, 24 San Juan Road, Mon.–Fri., 12–1 p.m.
• Shapiro Knolls, 33 Minto Road, Mon.–Fri., 12:30–1:30 p.m.
• Sunny Meadow Apartments, 220 Ross Ave., Freedom, Mon.–Fri., 12:30–1:30 p.m.
June 13–Aug. 3
• YWCA, 340 East Beach St., Mon.–Fri., 12:15–1:15 p.m.
June 18–Aug. 3
• Ramsay Park Family Center, 1301 Main St., Mon.-Tue., Thurs.-Fri., 12:15–1:15 p.m.
• Marinovich Park, 118 West Second St., Tues.-Weds., 12:15–1:15 p.m.
• Callaghan Park, 225 Sudden St., Mon.–Fri., 12:30–1:30 p.m.
• City of Watsonville Neighborhood Services, 7 Davis Ave., Mon.–Thurs., 12:30–1:30 p.m.
June 11–Aug. 3 (in Santa Cruz)
• Boys and Girls Club of Santa Cruz, 543 Center St., Mon.–Fri., 12–1 p.m.
June 11-July 27 (in Santa Cruz)
• Beach Flats Youth Center, 711 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, Mon.–Fri., 12–1 p.m.
The California Department of Education also provides free breakfast and lunch at H.A. Hyde Elementary School and Pajaro Middle School.
For information, visit tinyurl.com/yam3hvjd.