HAILEY, Idaho ( KMVT / KSVT ) - A growing number of children in Blaine County are counting on a free "Lunch in the Park" during summer break.
Lunch in the Park is a Federal program that is served locally through a partnership between The Hunger Coalition and the Blaine County School District.
Every Monday through Friday from noon to 1pm throughout the summer, kids flock to Balmoral Park in Woodside for a free healthy lunch and some socializing.
“42% of kids in Blaine County are on free and reduced lunch during the school year. And so, during the summer a lot of those guaranteed meals kind of go away. And so the idea is for us to provide food for those kids through the duration of the summer,” said Rachel Shinn, Volunteer Program Manager at The Hunger Coalition.
The Hunger Coalition said last year the program fed over 4500 meals to 350 kids.
This week marks the beginning of this year’s program. On Thursday, the program fed 73 children.
“It’s definitely gained every year. Gained popularity with the kids I guess and a lot more people trust the access. This program would not be successful without all of our amazing stellar volunteers that come out and just engage the kids and make sure the program runs really smoothly,” said Shinn.
You get to know the kids a little better, I’ve been doing this now, this is my second year and I’m trying to remember names, doing a pretty good job of it. It’s relaxed and it’s fun. We try to make it such that we’re here for them but we also like to see them enjoying themselves,” said Jane Oliver, volunteer.
Anyone ages 0 - 18 is welcome and adults arriving with children can purchase lunch at a reduced cost.