Grant Boosts Healthy Eating, Free Lunch Programs at Park Playgrounds
Healthy eating habits and physical activity are on the menu at park playgrounds in Springfield this summer, thanks to grant funding and a partnership between Willamalane Park and Recreation District and FOOD for Lane County.
Willamalane has received a $24,650 grant to promote the free summer lunch program for kids administered by FOOD for Lane County. The grant also provides funding to educate children and families about nutrition and the importance of healthy eating and activity.
Willamalane’s free Summer Playground Program offers organized activities for kids at ten parks and at Riverbend Elementary School. The program runs Monday-Thursday, June 22-Aug. 20. The grant will fund a nutrition education program at the playground sites, and at three additional summer meal program sites operated by FOOD for Lane County.
The meal program offers free hot lunches at 18 sites in Springfield for children up to age 18 between noon and 1 p.m., Monday-Thursday with a cold lunch on Friday. More meal sites may be added later. Although children can drop in at summer meals, parents will need to sign up their children in advance or register at the park sites for the Summer Playground Program.
The free out-of-school meals program run by FOOD for Lane County serves more than 60 sites through rural and urban locations.
“An average of 900 kids each day in Lane County receive a hot or cold meal during this summer meal program,” said FOOD for Lane County Program Manager Karen Roth. “That number has doubled in the last 25 years.”
Roth said that 66 percent of Springfield youth are eligible for the National School Lunch Program and more than 2,750 receive free school lunches during the school year.
The grant, which is funded through the National Recreation and Park Association and Wal-Mart, provides Willamalane the resources to increase awareness about the summer meal program with the goal of increasing participation. It also provides funding for Willamalane staff to provide nutritional information with the goal of improving children’s eating habits and increasing physical activity.
This is the first year Willamalane has received this funding, and Recreation Manager Terri Fackrell said she is excited to be able to promote lifelong healthy habits for youth.
Summer Playground Program sites:
Food for Lane County Meal Program sites:
- Brattain House 1030 G St.
- Centennial Elementary 1315 Aspen St.
- Douglas Gardens Park 3455 S. Redwood Drive
- Gamebird Park 1500 Mallard Ave.
- Guy Lee Park 755 Harlow Road
- Jack B. Lively Memorial Park 6100 Thurston Road
- Jasper Meadows South 57th St.
- Jesse Maine Park South 69th Pl.
- Maple Elementary 2109 J St.
- Meadow Park 851 Mill St.
- Pride Park 277 S. 34th St.
- Riverbend Elementary 320 51st St.
- Royal Delle Park 401 Blackstone St.
- Two Rivers-Dos Ríos Elementary 1084 G St.
- Thurston Park 6329 F St.
- Tyson Park 3405 E St.
- Volunteer Park 4350 Mt. Vernon Road
- Willamalane Park 1276 G St.