Summer Lunch in the Park program begins

Monday, June 9, 2014 | 7:09 p.m. CDT; updated 8:02 p.m. CDT, Monday, June 9, 2014

COLUMBIA — The first meal of this year's Lunch in the Park summer food program — turkey, ham and cheese sandwiches, carrots, apples and milk — were distributed to more than 40 children at Douglass Park on Monday.

Every weekday through Aug. 8 (except July 4th), free and nutritious lunches are prepared by Smithton Middle School and will be available to children ages 2 to 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Douglass Park.

For the past 14 years, the Health Department has provided free lunches to an average of 100 children every weekday during summer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture pays for the meals. To qualify as nutritious, every meal must include milk, bread, fruit, vegetables and a meat or meat substitute, according to USDA guidelines.

Any unused food goes to the day center on Wilkes Boulevard. 

Every day, three to five volunteers from the Voluntary Action Center will distribute the sack lunches.

Community Health Manager Mary Martin said she's been involved in the program for the past 10 years.

"We want to feed hungry children," Martin said. "It's rewarding."

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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