Lunch at Douglass Park starts up for the summer

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COLUMBIA – “Lunch at the Park” started Monday for the 17th summer in a row with a new addition this year.

Nutrition Supervisor Erin Harris said a new partner will join the program.

“We’re partnering with the MU Dietetics School, and they’re coming to give out food samples and teach the kids about good nutrition,” she said.

USDA funds the summer food program. The Missouri Dept. of Health applies for funds, and when it’s granted the organization gets reimbursed.

Columbia Parks and Recreation secures the park for this program, and Columbia Public schools supply the lunches. Volunteers from the Voluntary Action Center pass out around 35 free lunches per day. Last summer, volunteers passed out almost 5,000 lunches in total.

Harris said this takes the burden off of other food resources like SNAP or WIC.

“They would be trying to find food sources elsewhere, so what an impact that would have to our food banks,” she said.

The program will serve lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. until August 4.