Program Administrator Micheal Marsh said “We served 5120 lunches and had 1722 students participate in our activities [this summer]. We have several programs on campus that operate simultaneously, and all eat lunch together. Some programs end after lunch and those kids participate in our activities. Some kids come just to participate in the activities.”
Completing it’s fifth year, the free summer lunch was a creation of former CCUSD Superintendent Dave LaRose, who sought to fill the need for students whose free school lunches disappeared over the summer, leaving vulnerable kids without food. Just as important as the calories are all the activities and social connections, letting children know that community does not end in June and start in August.
Program Director Leslie Garcia said it had been a very busy six weeks. “We’ve had so much support from the community, people coming to read to the kids, do artwork and play games. It’s a lot more than lunch.”
“We are very thankful to the community for coming out and supporting our program with so many varied activities, ” March echoed the sentiment, saying “Speedy the [real, live] tortoise was definitely a hit as the students clamored to feed him. And Culver Bus had all the kids sitting on an bus learning about riding the bus and making a ‘bus bank’ to take home. LACMA and Sony did all sorts of creative art activities. Today you saw the end of a 5 day project in which the children made their own piñata. These are just a sample of some of the activities we had.”
Free Summer Lunch also gave away brand new and slightly used books. About 6,000 new books were donated to the program, and families were welcome to take those home to enjoy.
March, a new administrator to the program, couldn’t address how this year reflected with previous years, but did say that “We served varying numbers of children. Our high for lunches served was 257 while the high for the number of children participating in activities was 122.”