While school is out, anyone under the age of 18 can get a free lunch, courtesy of the USDA's Summer Food Service Program, now in its 40th year. Starting this summer, children and adults can call the toll-free National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY or use an online tool to find free meal sites. After callers provide their zip code, the hotline directs them to the nearest USDA meal site.
I called the hotline and found that the nearest food site to me in Washington, D.C., is the Martin Luther King Jr. Library. It serves lunch from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The hotline operator told me that the meals must conform to Michelle Obama's federal nutrition standards.
Any child can receive meals at the sites regardless of need, the hotline's Program Manager Gina Bonilla told South Dakota Public Broadcasting.
When I walked into the MLK Jr. Library, the supervisor offered me a meal, no questions asked. As a 21-year-old, I can pass for a high schooler. But I was dressed business casual, like an adult going to work. The supervisor did not ask for an ID, making me wonder how many others can abuse the program. The supervisor recognized the next girl who walked in: 16-year-old Effi, who wished not to disclose her last name.