Countdown to free summer lunches

One week left.

We know kids, teachers, and other school staff are counting down the days until summer vacation. We also know some families are a little worried about what happens when the last bell rings. Nearly half the students in Lakeview schools are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and take advantage of breakfast and lunch during the school year. When summer starts, families have to find a way to stretch their budgets a bit more.

The Outback Strong Summer Lunch Program is here to help. Back for its third straight year, the program serves up free meals to all youth 18 and younger. Income level doesn’t matter. If you have a hungry kid, the summer lunch program is for you.

Lake Health District, with help from volunteers and temporary staff, is serving meals at two sites all summer long: McDonald Park (aka the kiddie park) and Lakeview Commons-North, 840 North H St. Lunches will be served from noon to 1 p.m. at both sites. The program kicks off June 10 and runs Monday through Friday until August 23.

Last summer’s smoky skies forced us indoors. This year, we are prepared with backup sites. If it’s too smoky to be out, or if it’s raining, snowing (you never know), or dangerously hot, the Outback Strong Summer Lunch Program will move to one of two locations: the Lake County Library conference room or the A.D. Hay Elementary School gym. The library is the backup site for week one — but we’re hoping for sunny skies by then!

In addition to the great programming provided by Prevention coordinator Francie Winters and our FoodCorps service members, this summer we are partnering with local agencies, individuals, and businesses to bring enrichment activities to the kiddie park. The Bureau of Land Management’s mascot, Seymour the Antelope, will be there the first week. Learn about the Lake County Library’s summer reading program during week two. Eastern Oregon Health Living Alliance will get kids moving in week three. Watch for more special guests throughout the summer.

We’re excited for another great year of fun, food, and friends! We’ll be sharing stories and photos on our website during the summer, and we’d love to hear from you.

If you have questions about the Outback Strong Summer Lunch Program or want to volunteer, call or text program coordinator Arvinder Singh at (425) 999-6345. You can also email your comments, questions, stories, and photos to mailto:outbackstrong@gmail.com.