A Lunch + Play summer program for kids by Portland Parks & Recreation returns on Monday with expanded free meals at Portland parks, citywide.
This year, in addition to free meals at lunchtime or during the early afternoon at convenient park locals and several apartment complexes, take-home activities are being planned, such as art kits, activity packs, free books, and games. The program is part of an expanded effort by the city of Portland and Portland area school districts to provide food security in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lunch + Play gives kids a free, healthy meal for lunch during summer when school is out. The food distribution program continues a Portland Parks & Recreation endeavor dating uninterrupted from the 1970s.
Schedules are available for all 26 sites at portlandoregon.gov/parks/freelunch. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, children do not need to be present in order to receive a meal as they did in years past.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he was proud of all the support the program has received to help keep thousands of young people nourished and healthy.
“COVID-19 and widespread layoffs have made hunger one of our community’s most urgent needs this summer,” Wheeler said. “Special thanks to NIKE, Inc., Bank of America, and our other partners who made it possible to expand our service during this time of higher need. “
PP&R and its partners expect to distribute nearly 500,000 free meals to Portland children this summer - nearly five times more than a typical season. The program will take place at parks in areas with a clear need for free and reduced lunch programs and areas where other free food providers are less accessible, officials said. Most of the sites are in east and north Portland.
“This summer looks different than any other, with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 health crisis,” says PP&R Director Adena Long. “But Portland Parks & Recreation has been providing summertime food for nearly 50 years. We are continuing to help people be healthier, life to be more stable, and neighbors to make lifelong summer memories through this flagship program. Our thanks to all our City and non-profit partners who are helping deliver summertime fun, food, and memories.”
If you’d like to donate to help the Free Lunch + Play program serve Portland’s children, visit portlandoregon.gov/parks/lunch+play.
Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, everyone visiting a park and/or taking part in the Free Lunch + Play program should adhere to physical distancing guidelines - staying at least 6 feet away from others when in a public space.