Children in two Bay Area cities will have access to free meals this summer under separate programs with a similar goal — providing nutritious options while school is not in session.

In San Francisco, the city’s Free Summer Meals Program plans to distribute meals and snacks Monday through Friday from June 10 to Aug. 16 for children and teenagers under the age of 18.

The program will provide free breakfasts, lunches and/or snacks to those in need. There is no registration or proof of need required; children and teenagers simply have to arrive during designated serving times. Meals will be available at more than 75 locations throughout the city.

The San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and Their Families (DCYF) partners with the USDA Summer Food Service Program, the California Department of Education, Chefables, the Board of Supervisors Food Security Task Force, the San Francisco Unified School District, City departments, and nonprofit and private organizations to run and fund the program.

“Many children and youth in San Francisco rely on the free meals provided at school during the academic year,” DCYF Executive Director Maria Su said. “When school is not in session, it can be challenging for some families to replace these meals for their children. Our Summer Meals Program steps in to fill this gap by offering nutritious meals and snacks at easily accessible locations across the City.”

“When school is not in session, it can be challenging for some families to replace these meals for their children. Our Summer Meals Program steps in to fill this gap by offering nutritious meals and snacks at easily accessible locations across the City.”

Maria Su, DCYF Executive Director

During the 2023 summer distribution period, about 85,770 meals and 67,870 snacks were distributed across San Francisco, according to a news release. This summer will be the program’s 27th year.

DCYF program monitors conduct regular site visits to make sure distribution sites are following federal, state, and local policies, rules, and regulations, according to the news release.

Program sites can be found through the free CA Meals for Kids mobile phone app, texting “Summer Meals” to 914-342-7744, or calling 1-866-348-6479. Sites can also be found by calling the San Francisco Services Call Center at 3-1-1 or the United Way Helplink line at 2-1-1.

YouTube video
An overview of the USDA's Summer Food Service Program. (USDA Food and Nutrition Service/YouTube)

Berkeley kids eat for free

Kids in Berkeley also will be able to get free breakfast and lunch this summer through the National School Lunch Program, the city said.

Berkeley Unified School District announced its participation in the federally funded Seamless Summer Option (SSO) this past Thursday.

All students ages 18 or younger can participate in the program, receiving breakfast and lunch throughout the summer, regardless of whether they are enrolled in the school district.

Meal distribution will be held at Berkeley Arts Magnet School at 2015 Virginia St., Rosa Parks Elementary at 920 Allston Way, and Oxford Elementary at 1222 University Ave, which will all begin serving on June 5 and run through Aug. 9.

Berkeley High School at 1980 Allston Way will participate in the program from June 17 to July 12. Meals are only served during the week, not weekends. Breakfast is available from 9 to 9:30 a.m., and lunch will be served from noon through 1 p.m.

Berkeley Public Library at 2090 Kittredge Street will also distribute lunch from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays beginning June 11 and running through Aug. 9.