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Dane County, WI

06/14/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/14/2018 11:58

Free Summer Food Program Launches June 18

Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 11:20am

City of Madison, REAP Food Group, Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison Parks, Public Health Madison & Dane County, and Centro Hispano partner to provide free summer meals

An innovative partnership of public and nonprofit partners is addressing food insecurity for children and families in Madison again this summer. The City of Madison, REAP Food Group, Madison Metropolitan School District, Public Health Madison & Dane County, Centro Hispano, and community partners are coming together to improve and expand the Summer Food Program. This program provides free summer meals to all children 18 and under at 50 sites citywide.

The Summer Food Program begins Monday, June 18 with a special kickoff event from 12:30-2 pm at. Leopold Park. Mayor Paul Soglin, along with Alder Sheri Carter, REAP Executive Director Helen Sarakinos, Leopold Elementary present and future principals Karine Sloan and Peg Keeler, and MMSD's Food and Nutrition Director Steve Youngbauer will address the community and press at 1 pm.

MMSD and REAP Food Group will provide free lunch and Farm to School activities, and Elmore Lawson will perform live music for this free public event. Several community partners will host special activities at the kickoff. Dane County Library will send the Bookmobile to Leopold Park (bring your library cards!), Madison Water Utility will haul out the Water Wagon, and the city clerk will host a mock election. The Madison Public Library will lead button making and hand out free books, and event partner Fitchburg Library will supply lawn games and crafts. Appearances will also be made by the Madison Parks Department, Fitchburg K9 Unit, and the Madison School and Community Recreation Fit2Go mobile fitness van.

The partners aim to serve more children by increasing public awareness of and improving access to the free meals for both children and families. Special efforts will take place at Elver, Leopold and Southdale parks and Centro Hispano this summer, led by REAP Food Group. Free summer lunches will be served to all children and their accompanying adults Monday through Friday, June 18-Aug 10, from 11:30 am-12:15 pm at Elver Park; 12:30-1:30 pm at Southdale Park; 11:30 am-12:30 pm at Centro Hispano; and 1-1:45 pm at Leopold Park. REAP's Farm to School Program will also provide fun, educational activities daily at all four locations. The Wisconsin Partnership Program is funding this work, with additional sponsorship for adult meals provided by the City of Madison.

'The USDA Summer Food Service Program is extremely important for lowering barriers to food access for children during the summer months', comments Mayor Paul Soglin. 'The City of Madison is committed to sponsoring this program and providing funding to expand the provision of free summer meals, not just to children 18 and younger, but also to the adults who accompany them and who may also be experiencing food access and insecurity issues.'

In addition to the Elver, Leopold, Southdale and Centro Hispano sites, which will offer free adult meals, there are dozens of other locations in the Madison area, including schools, community centers, apartments and more, that will serve free breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks this summer. No registration or identification is required to receive meals; all youth 18 and under eat for free. To find sites and meal times, visit mmsd.org/food or text 'food' or 'comida' to 877-877.

Along with REAP Farm to School educational lunchtime activities at Elver and Southdale parks, all MMSD Summer Food Program sites will feature locally grown, farm-fresh vegetables, coordinated by REAP Food Group and MMSD Food and Nutrition Department.