Nourishing minds, bodies

Free summer food program returns for area youths

Children and teenagers lined up enthusiastically Wednesday afternoon at the Western Neighborhood Outreach Center for a lunchtime meal featuring pizza, chips, fruit and homemade s’mores, all to fuel up for an afternoon of swimming at Hoffman Municipal Pool.

Summer lunch

Western Neighborhood Outreach Center summer intern Chalony Tolliver, right, serves a pizza lunch Wednesday to John Emrick, 13, and Andrew Slade, 6, at the 520 Garfield Ave. center during the free daily lunches offered throughout the summertime, along with many other activities, including trips to the Hoffman Municipal Pool, which Andrew was prepared for in his swimming attire. (EXAMINER PHOTOS | MANDY LOEHR)

The lunches served at the 520 Garfield Ave. center are part of the free summer food program offered at the three Logan County Neighborhood Outreach Centers throughout the summer months until school resumes in the fall through a $5,778.22 United Way of Logan County grant.

“We serve many of the staple items that the kids like, from the pizza we’re having today to chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and peanut butter and jelly that is made right here on site,” Western Neighborhood Outreach Center Director Aaron Pool said while assisting center interns Chalony Tolliver and Sarah Seeley with serving up the fresh-out-of-the oven pizza.

“We also have special food days, like earlier this week when we made homemade ice cream, or when we do breakfast for lunch and offer items like madeto- order waffles or omelets and the kids take each other’s orders.

“We also have supportive community members who also like to bring over items to add to our meals on certain days as well.”

Summer lunch 2

Brothers J.W. Dolan, 7, left, and Nelson, 15, sitting across the table, along with Damian Dick, 14, right, partake of lunch.

Similarly, Drew Shick, director of the centers for the other two meal sites — the Chippewa Neighborhood Outreach Center and Russells Point Neighborhood Outreach Center — said involving the kids in the meal process is an important part of the daily offerings.

“We often do taco Tuesdays, pizza days where the kids make their own pizzas, and offer many other kid-friendly lunches, making sure that they get a balanced meal by serving fruits and vegetables as well. The kids participate in the meal prep, taking meal orders and also cleaning dishes afterward.”

Any interested area youths are eligible to participate in the summer lunches without any pre-registration, the directors said of the outreach centers run by Logan County Children’s Services.

Lunches are served at the Western Neighborhood Outreach Center between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, depending on various field trips planned for the day.

Read complete story in Friday's Examiner
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