Idaho Food Bank launches summer lunch program

BOISE - This year free lunch will be available to anyone between the ages 1-18, from June 6 through Aug. 22, at 15 sites, 12 in Boise, one in Meridian and two in Nampa.

The Nampa lunches (Boys and Girls Club, 316 Stampede) will start June 9 and 10. Hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for lunch and 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 for enrichment activities, Monday through Friday. Last year the program served 73,448 lunches.

This year’s Boise sites are Ann Morrison, Cassia, Elm Grove, Fairmont, Ivywild, Manitou, Owyhee, Veterans Memorial and Winstead parks, plus the Boise Family YMCA (1050 W. State St.), Davis Apartments (970 N. 29th St.) and Northwest Pointe Apartments (3475 N. Five Mile Rd.). The lunches at the apartment complexes are open to all.

In Meridian, Picnic in the Park lunches will be served at Storey Park, also June 6 – August 22. In Nampa, lunch will be at the Boys and Girls Club (316 Stampede Dr.) starting June 9 and the Salvation Army (403 12th Ave. S.) starting June 10.

There are no income or attendance requirements. All young people have to do is show up, have lunch and enjoy the lunches and enrichment activities.

This program is important for thousands of children in the Boise area. Some 36 percent or about 8,000 of the children in Boise schools depend on free or reduced-price lunches during the school year. Those children are at risk of going hungry during the summer when school breakfasts and lunches are not available. Across the street from the program in Veterans Park, for instance, is Taft Elementary where 76% of the kids are on the free or reduced program. Down the street is Whittier, where 91% qualify.

Those are the types of kids we need to reach this summer.

The Picnic in the Park program is a collaboration between The Idaho Foodbank and a number of partners, including Boise City Parks and Recreation, Albertsons, the US Department of Agriculture, the Idaho State Department of Education, United Way of the Treasure Valley, and generous individual donors, and will include programs by Humphreys Diabetes Center and Ada Community Library.