Portland Parks and Recreation’s Summer Free for All Kick off at Luuwit View Park

by Fatima Jawaid

It’s a Portland classic–you’re ready to put the gloomy dreary days behind you–and just when the weather changes and you are mentally celebrating the onslaught of summer, and then it rains again. This was definitely the case on June 17th–the day of Portland Parks and Recreation’s Summer Free For All Kickoff event at Luuwit View Park. The rain poured down, the sun came out, and the rain poured down once more–but the weather didn’t stop children’s laughter from filling the air–and the occasional sighting of Blaze, the Trail Cat!

The event was a bustle of activity with music lesson stations, activity booths, games, and sports for children to engage in. About 250 children were in attendance, plus dozens of adults and sponsors on site–totaling about 185 meals served by Parkrose School District.

We, at Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, were happy to attend the event, and see this Summer Meal program in action. This program is crucial in supporting families by offering nutritious meals and recreational activities during the summer recess. Fifty-seven percent of Portland students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch during the school year. Without school lunches, summer becomes the time when nearly 50,000 Portland children face hunger daily.

The Free Lunch and Play program will continue all summer in parks throughout Portland and some apartment complexes through the “mobile play” program. All sites run by Portland Parks and Recreation by providing free, accessible, and family-friendly summer activities–like live music, movies, crafts, sports, games, and free lunches. This is done in partnership with five local school districts and Meals on Wheels People. For more information or a list of locations, please visit the programs’ website. Guides are also posted online in English and eight other languages (Arabic, Burmese, Simple Chinese, Nepali, Russian, Spanish, Somali, and Vietnamese).

This is just one Summer Meal program out of 133 programs across Oregon providing Summer Meals to children during these crucial summer months. The Summer Food Service Program is available in hundreds of communities throughout Oregon, offering free meals and snacks to all kids ages 1-18. Summer meal programs are open to all families without paperwork or signing up–kids can just drop in!

To find a summer meal sites in your community – visit https://www.summerfoodoregon.org/map/, text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877-877, or call 211.