The school year may be over but free lunches will continue for many South L.A. students this summer. Starting Monday, food will be handed out twice a day at 53 different parks throughout Los Angeles. Anyone under the age of 18 is welcome to the eats.
In order for parks to qualify for this program, they must be in the proximity of an elementary, middle or high school where more than 50 percent of its students receive reduced or free lunch. Times will vary from location to location, but lunch will be served between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and snacks between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
The program was created over a decade ago, said Catarah Hampshire of the L.A. County Dept. of Parks and Recreation. It aims to provide healthy, free meals to area youth, who may not otherwise get to eat lunch during the summer.
"Groceries are one of the most expensive purchases family make during the summer," said Hampshire -- especially if the family has more than one kid.
She's expecting 75 to 150 kids to show up each day at almost every park.
"If the park has a pool they're probably there, hanging out," said Hampshire, adding that many youths spend a lot of their summer time at the park -- others will merely show up for the meal and leave.
Food options will include milk, juice, string cheese, fruits and veggies, turkey sandwiches and baked snack alternatives such as Baked Lays. There will be nothing fried and nothing too sweet, said Hampshire.
The free meals are being provided by the Arcadia Unified School District -- each snack costs about 71 cents to produce and lunches are $3.06. Program organizers are expecting to serve approximately 270,000 meals over the course of the summer.
The program is put on by the L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation along with the United States Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Education. The free lunches begin on Monday, June 25 and will continue until August 17.
Participating parks in the South Los Angeles vicinity include:
ST. TURIBIUS SCHOOL
1524 ESSEX ST.
LOS ANGELES, CA 90021
MARY M. BETHUNE PARK
1244 E. 61ST ST.
LOS ANGELES, CA 90001
GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER PARK
1400 E. 118TH ST.
LOS ANGELES, CA 90059
Photo credit: Flickr via elana's pantry