Kids who rely on school lunches and breakfast can be lost during summer vacation with no reliable, healthy meals

With school out soon, kids whose main meals are breakfast and lunch at school could be facing a hungry summer — or at best, one without nutritious food.

Communities in Ontario and surrounding counties have a number of food cupboards and meal programs that run all year. One program not widely known about is specifically for kids who rely on school meals when school’s out. The Summer Food Service Program is through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This summer, USDA says the program plans to serve more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years and under at sites nationwide.

Here are details and how to find local nearby sites.

How does it work?

Also called the No Kid Hungry network, the program involves private citizens, government officials, business leaders and others who sponsor the program and run meal sites.

Who runs meal sites?

Program sponsors include school districts, local government agencies, camps, or private nonprofit organizations. Sponsors provide free meals to a group of children at a central site, such as a school or community center. Sponsors receive payments from USDA through their state agencies for the meals they serve.

Where do programs operate?

Sites operate in low-income areas where at least half of the children come from families with incomes at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level — making them eligible for free and reduced-price school meals. Meals are free to any child at these sites. The program also provides free meals to children enrolled in an activity program at a site where at least half the children are eligible for free and reduced-price meals. Camps can also participate. A camp can receive payments for meals served to children who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals.

Who is eligible for meals?

Children 18 and younger may receive free meals and snacks through the program. Meals and snacks are also available to people with disabilities, over age 18, who participate in school programs for people who are mentally or physically disabled.

What if I have a child or know a child who needs the program?

Text FOOD to 877-877. Enter your address to find a site nearest you. You can also call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY (486479) (1-877-8-HAMBRE). Check the USDA Summer Food Map, https://ny.nokidhungry.org/

Area sites include:

In Monroe County: Monroe County Visitation Center

In Ontario County: North Street Elementary School in Geneva, Geneva Community Center, Geneva Public Library, Geneva Boys and Girls Club

In Steuben County: Lawrence Park, Prattsburgh Central School, Wayland Elementary School

In Wayne County: Palmyra Community Library, Newark Public Library

In Yates County: Penn Yan Elementary School, Penn Yan Academy, Penn Yan Public Library