“Picnic in the Park,” is our take on the traditional summer lunch program. The program operates in open sites away from existing agency programs (which are typically closed sites linked to having to be involved in a specific program) and school sites (which generally have their own access issues.)
We launched last year and did the work of creating a website providing bilingual info on availability of all lunch programs in the county (not just ours) backed up with PSAs and flyers. This was successful at helping all programs. Rather than purchase some nasty ‘lunches that meet the federal nutrition guidelines’ (and there are some super-nasty quasi-Lunchable type products out there, where it would be healthier to chew on the expensive cardboard package rather than eat the chemical wonders inside them) we had local volunteers working in donated kitchens to make delicious and healthy cold lunches that utilized fresh local ingredients. We also had volunteer teams serving the lunches and leading kids in game and exercise, doing some food literacy education games and also supervising use of our life-changing ‘bike blenders’ where the kids can pedal to make their own healthy smoothies – see sad picture of puffed-out CEO at work on one of them below:
The program was an instant success and will be growing this summer. We are also looking at increasing our availability of snacks for which we can also claim a reimbursement on, and use our repackaging skills to effect savings on these items.