During the school year, lunch often isn’t a problem for low-income kids because they benefit from subsidized meals. But when summer rolls around, well, it’s another thing: Hunger becomes a real threat.
In Idaho, that situation is a bigger problem than you might realize. In fact, more than 90,000 kids experience hunger, according to the Idaho Foodbank.
The nonprofit doesn’t want these children to spend an entire summer with rumbling stomachs, so this year they are continuing their popular Picnic in the Park program — a massive effort to provide 60,000 meals to needy kids in the Boise area.
The initiative has 27 lunch giveaways planned for the summer— the majority of which will happen in public parks. During the noontime gatherings, Parks and Recreation Department employees and volunteers will be on hand to lead kids in exercise and games and the Idaho Commission for Libraries will bring bookmobiles to the events. The Idaho State Department of Education, the Boise School District, and Old Chicago Restaurant are also involved, contributing various things.
“I don’t know if there’s a better collaborative effort than this,” said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter told George Prentice of Boise Weekly. “Getting kids moving, reading, making good friends and developing healthy habits…this just gets better every year.”
Marty Zahn of Old Chicago explained to Prentice how the events work. “As the kids are eating their lunches, we begin some interactions…some small talk, asking them about their plans for the summer and whatnot. Then, it’s just natural to ask them to play some games.”
And after a nutritious lunch, the kids certainly have plenty of energy to play, read, and make friends.