Wednesday, July 12 was a warm, sunny afternoon at the Gresham Library as kids and families gathered waiting for the building to open. It was not a normal day at the library though, it was the day of the Summer Meals Kickoff Party.
When the doors opened, there were many fun activities, including crafting, face painting and games. The lines were long to meet Wonder Woman, Batman and Smokey the Bear. Tables were set up around the library from Legacy Health, Kaiser Permanente, Oregon State Parks, the Eastside Timbers and more. At 12:30, kids could go and get a delicious and healthy lunch, complete with a carton of milk, courtesy of Gresham-Barlow School District.
Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann kicked off the day encouraging kids, and in particular girls, to be involved in the community and stay healthy during the summer: “Whether you’re in grade school or in your 30s, how many of you might want to run for public office when you grow up?” she asked. Hands shot into the air!
After lunch, a Bollywood-style dance group came to perform for the library and taught kids some dance moves. Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon provided ice cream and popsicles as a sweet treat for kids and families. And at the end of the event, the library announced the raffle winners of soccer-related prizes provided by the Eastside Timbers.
The event was a certifiable success with around 300 kids attending, and hundreds more family members. This event was not just fun but also gave attention to an important issue: keeping kids nourished and learning throughout the summer. Locating summer meals at libraries is a win-win way for families to meet this goal. With programming all summer long, and lunch provided five days a week, kids have a fun place to spend time in their community.
“With help from a Summer Meals Support Fund grant, Rockwood was started as the first Multnomah County Library summer meals location back in 2013, and Midland was added a year later. It’s exciting to see the Library going strong with three successful sites. Families look forward to them each summer,” said Marcella Miller, Child Hunger Prevention Manager.
The library offers lunch every weekday at three locations, Gresham, Rockwood, and Midland. Multnomah County Library is able to do so through partnerships with Gresham-Barlow School District and Catering for a Cause, a subsidiary of Volunteers of America, . who prepare and deliver lunch to the libraries each day. The program at Gresham runs through August 25 and until September 1st at Rockwood and Midland.
We would like to thank Multnomah County Library, Multnomah County Department of County Human Services, Gresham-Barlow School District and all of the participants in this event.
Numerous other summer meal sites offer healthy summer lunches for young people in the Portland metro area and across Oregon. Visit summerfoodoregon.org for locations