News

Jun 13, 2013

Parkside Summer Meals Program

Free Summer Lunch for Kids Offered July 1st to August 23rd
PORTLAND (June 14, 2013) — On June 20th, on their way home from their last day at school, children and families will be able to stop by The Opportunity Alliance’s Parkside Neighborhood Center at 85 Grant Street in Portland for a kick-off event to celebrate the beginning of summer and remind families about the free summer lunch program. The afternoon will feature healthy snacks, games, face-painting and other activities, and the Portland Public Library Bookmobile. The event is free and open to everyone.

The Parkside Neighborhood Center is open to all families and offers educational and cultural opportunities to build community, connect neighbors, and promote social and physical well-being. During these times of decreased funding for summer camp scholarships, the Center is particularly important for children during the summer months. It offers daily activities and field trips for children, a job skills program for adults, a family and senior supper on Tuesday evenings, and is a site for the Summer Food Service Program in Portland.
The Opportunity Alliance’s Summer Food Service Program collaborates with numerous community partners and volunteers to ensure that nutritious meals are available Monday through Friday for children during the summer months when school is out. More than half of the students enrolled in the Portland Public Schools depend on free or reduced-price school lunches and breakfasts for nine months of the year. Summer vacation exposes many of them to increased risk of hunger and developmental decline. This is a problem nationwide. Only 20 percent of the 3,700 students eligible for free and reduced-price meals, however, take advantage of the summer program. The goal of the kick-off event at the Parkside Neighborhood Center is to raise awareness and increase participation this summer. Summer meals will also be offered in convenient locations throughout the city such as playgrounds and neighborhoods where there is subsidized housing. Portland has 16 open meal sites where any child can go for a free summer lunch.

Families can find a summer meal site near them by either calling 2-1-1 or texting MEALS4ME to 877-877.

The Summer Food Service Program is federally funded and administered by the Maine Department of Education. Local partners working to increase participation include The Opportunity Alliance, Healthy Portland, and Preble Street Resource Center.

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*In November of 2011, PROP (People’s Regional Opportunity Program) and Youth Alternatives Ingraham unified their missions to form The Opportunity Alliance. The new organization serves children, youth, adults, and seniors; individuals, families, and communities throughout Maine.

For a copy of the full press release, download here.
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