Children’s Free Summer Food Program Launches June 24
Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 11:15am
City of Madison, REAP Food Group, Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison Parks, and Public Health Madison & Dane County 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, and community partners are coming together to offer the Summer Food Program. This program provides free summer meals to all children 18 and under at nearly three dozen sites citywide.
The Summer Food Program begins Monday, June 24 with a special kickoff event from 11:30 am - 1 pm at Leopold Park. Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, along with Alder Sheri Carter, REAP Executive Director Helen Sarakinos, Leopold Elementary Principal Peg Keeler, and MMSD’s Food and Nutrition Director Steve Youngbauer, will address the community and press at 11:30 a.m. 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.
“By offering youth under age 18 free meals, the USDA Summer Food Service Program provides a critical service to children and families across the city during the summer months,” comments Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. “The City of Madison is committed to providing continued funding for free summer meals to children and accompanying adults in our community and is thrilled that the program is utilizing neighborhood assets like city parks and schools to engage and serve our residents.”
Several community partners will host special activities at the kickoff as well. 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's Office will host a mock election. The Madison Public Library and Fitchburg Library will also be at the event with fun activities for children. Other appearances will be made by the Madison Parks Department, Fitchburg K9 Unit, Fitchburg Fire Department, and UNIDOS.
The partners aim to serve more children by increasing public awareness of and improving access to the free meals for both children and families. REAP Food Group will hand out free summer lunches to all children and their accompanying adults at Leopold Park and Southdale Park every Monday through Friday, June 24 through Aug. 16 (except July 4 and 5), from 12-1 pm. REAP’s Farm to School Program will also provide fun, educational activities daily.
"The Summer Food Program is a critical strategy to bridge the gap for kids who may struggle to find a meal while school is out,” said Matthew Fornoff, REAP Farm to School and Community Director. “Even more, with support from the city and other partners, this innovative approach to serving at open park sites gives us the chance to connect with our community, to engage, educate, and learn from them so we can better serve Madison neighborhoods that face food and health inequities.”
In addition to the Leopold and Southdale sites, 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 https://food.madison.k12.wi.us/ or text “food” or “comida” to 877-877.
Along with REAP Farm to School educational lunchtime activities at Leopold 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.
- George Reistad, Food Policy Director, 608-266-4611