Free Lunch in the Park for Columbia Kids

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COLUMBIA - Several dozen kids gathered at Douglass Park Monday for free lunch and activities.

For fourteen summers, the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health and Human Services has offered free lunch to kids in Douglass Park. It is an extension of the school's free and reduced lunch program.

Children 18 and under can come up to the park on any weekday in the summer for free lunch and activities.

The lunches are prepared by Columbia Public Schools and served by volunteers. Social Service Specialist for the Voluntary Action Center, Lisa Restivo, said between 70 and 90 lunches are made each day and finding volunteers to serve lunch is never a problem.

Restivo said, "We fill up with volunteers very quickly. We have a great core group of volunteers from different organizations and individuals in Columbia and Boone County. Many of them do it every single year."

Lunch in the Park on Mondays also includes the Daniel Boone Regional Library Bookmobile. It's a traveling library that holds thousands of books for students. The Bookmobile also carries books that kids have previously ordered online for them to pick up.   

"The kids really like the Bookmobile," Restivo said, "They get to go over and talk with the librarians and pick out the books that they want. It's been really fun to watch."

The Bookmobile makes stops in Auxvasse, Hallsville, Harrisburg, Holt's Summit, Sturgeon and Columbia. It will stop at Lunch in the Park in Columbia every Monday from 11:30-12:45 until August 4th and Lunch in the Park will be available every weekday, besides July 4th, until August 8th. 

To volunteer call Voluntary Action Center (573) 874-2273.