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COOS BAY — At the Coos Bay School District, almost 200 more lunches are being served so far this summer compared to last year.

In 2018 during the district’s Summer Lunch Program, 5,267 lunches were served to youth in the area.

“We have served 773 lunches this June, which is up about 170 from last year,” said Superintendent Bryan Trendell. “This is a very important program for kids. We have a high rate of poverty in our area, in our district, and providing lunch for kids from one to 18 gives families an opportunity to get a free lunch for their children no matter if they live in Eastside, the middle of town at Blossom Gulch, or clear out in Charleston.”

There are a handful of sites for youth to get a free lunch this summer, starting at the only school site at Blossom Gulch Elementary from 11:15 a.m. to noon.

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For the other sites, a van takes food to a number of locations. The van stops first at Eastside Park from 10:50 a.m. to 11:05 a.m., then to the Woodland Apartments from 11:20 a.m. to 11:35 a.m., followed by Madison Elementary at 11:40 a.m. to 11:50 a.m.

From there, the van stops at Taylor-Wasson Park from 12:05 p.m. to 12:15 p.m., then at Bayway Trailer Park from 12:30 p.m. to 12:40 p.m. Finally, the van serves lunch at Charleston Community Baptist Church from 12:50 p.m. to 1:05 p.m.

The Summer Lunch Program began June 24 and will continue every day until Aug. 23.

“It is a lot of sites,” Trendell said. “Having that van be able to travel through the neighborhood is a huge benefit for the program. Summer can be tough on families because often they have to pay for daycare or other things when kids aren’t in school and home budgets are tight. Providing them with one good meal at lunchtime every day is huge for a lot of families in our area. It’s great we can offer this service and help these kids because they need to be healthy and a good meal is part of that.”

Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.