Summer Lunch in the Park Begins Today

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia-Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services is starting its 13th year of "Lunch in the Park" Monday at Douglass Park.

The event provides nutritional lunches to people 18 years of age or younger during the summer. Lunch will be served every weekday, except July 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and will run through August 9.

The USDA funded program is an extension of the public school free and reduced lunch program.

For every 100 children in Missouri who receive free or reduced price meals at school, only about eight get the same benefit during the summer months. A new report from the Food Research and Action Center says Missouri fed about one-third fewer kids in summer 2012 than in 2011.

Mary Martin, Community Health Manager, said the Lunch in the Park program is part of the war on hunger.

"It's been around for years, longer than we've been doing it," said Martin. "We usually do it for about 49 days. Last year we averaged about 100 kids a day, so about 5,000 kids are fed during the summer."

The meals are prepared by Columbia Public Schools and served by volunteers.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact the Voluntary Action Center.