Free lunches offered over the summer at Raven Loop Park

06.28.2018 Danielle Frost People, Events

If you go

Free summer meals

Where: Raven Loop Park

When: 12:30 to 1 p.m., Monday-Friday through Aug. 3. There is no meal service on Wednesday, July 4.

For more information: Call 503-876-2702.

By Danielle Frost

There is such a thing as a free lunch.

For the 22nd year, the Willamina School District is offering free meals to children every weekday through Aug. 3 with the exception of the Fourth of July.

Any child ages 1 through 18 may participate in the program regardless of family income. There is no registration required, but meals must be consumed on site.

This summer, meals are being served locally at Raven Loop Park in Grand Ronde in addition to Willamina Elementary School and Tina Miller Park in Willamina.

Tribal Library staff will be at Raven Loop Park on Wednesdays to read stories during lunch time.

On the first day of the program Monday, June 18, a handful of children waited patiently for School District employee Rebecca Snowden to pass out corndogs, apples, cucumber slices and milk.

It is her third year working for the summer program.

“The best part of this is seeing the kids,” Snowden said. “I have a great relationship with them because I see them in the summer.”

During the school year, Snowden works in the Willamina Elementary School cafeteria. This summer, she is handing out punch cards and those who eat lunch 10 times will receive a prize.

“The kids are happy to see me during the summer because they are getting food,” she said. “It definitely helps build that positive relationship. I get kids that run up and hug me. I consider that to be good feedback.”

Haven Conklin, 6, echoed that sentiment.

“I like the food and I get to see our lunch lady,” she said. “I love her.”

Ethan Sabin, 11, has been participating in the summer lunch program for three years.

“I like coming here and seeing my friends, and eating the corndogs,” he said. “This is only the first day of the program, but sometimes there are a lot of people here.”

School District Nutrition Director Lynne Shore said the program is one of the longest running in the state, with the simple goal of providing a healthy lunch option for students during the summer months. An average of 35 meals are served at each site.

“We serve a lot of the same items we do during the school year so the kids are familiar with it,” Shore said. “This is a way for kids to get a good, healthy meal when school is out, see their friends and play at the park. We invite anyone from the area to come out.”