Kids are eating up summer meal program

Krystle Wagner • Jul 10, 2019 at 11:00 AM

Children sat in the shade as they ate lunch in Grand Haven’s Central Park.

Kids and adults gathered throughout the park to participate in the summer food program, Meet Up and Eat Up. Offered at several sites in the Tri-Cities, the program is a way of providing access to healthy meals throughout the summer.

Last month, 879 meals were served in Central Park. The Lake Hills Elementary School site served 554 meals in June, while the River Haven location served 432 meals and The Salvation Army in Grand Haven plated 1,181. The Robinson Elementary School site served 45 breakfasts, 27 lunches and 35 dinners last month.

Compared to last year, officials have noticed growth in the number of meals at the sites, said Amy Sheele, an educator with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.

Not including how many meals were served at Holland Public Schools, 37,604 meals were dished in Ottawa County last year. Grand Haven sites served 10,645 meals last summer.

Officials expect to serve more than 40,000 meals at 36 sites throughout the county this summer.

Sheele said she believes families are learning about the program and taking advantage of it.

Lunch is served from 12-12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, now through Aug. 8, at Lake Hills and Robinson elementary schools, and at the River Haven community. Lunch is offered 12-12:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through Aug. 7 at Grand Haven’s Central Park. Breakfast is also offered at the Robinson site at 9:10 a.m., with dinner at 4:30 p.m.

Campers in Northwest Ottawa Recreation Authority’s Recreation Summer School program are among participants in the meals at Lake Hills Elementary School and River Haven. Campers at Ferry Elementary School walk to The Salvation Army in Grand Haven site.

Children from the Grand Haven Area Public Schools’ Open Door/Preschool Program also participate in the program twice a week at Central Park. In addition to providing healthy meals, the children seem to enjoy the options and it lessens the number of meals families need to send with their child, said Janice Swiftney, with the program’s preschool-age room.

The summer food program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Michigan Department of Education is administers it.

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