WILKES-BARRE — City children can have fun, stay active and enjoy free lunches and snacks all summer long by participating in the fourth annual Food-n-Fun @ the Park program.
A partnership of the city of Wilkes-Barre, the Commission on Economic Opportunity, The Weinberg Food Bank and the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA, Food-n-Fun @ the Park is open to children in kindergarten through 12th grade.
CEO will run the food side of things and the YMCA will be in charge of activities, said Megan Tribendis, manager of the CEO’s Food For Kids Program.
The activities side of the program begins today and runs 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunches and snacks will be served beginning June 23; lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. and snacks will be served at 1 p.m. The program continues weekdays through Aug. 15.
There will be a special Food-n-Fun @ the Park Kick-off Party 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Coal Street Park. Interested families will be able to get more information, ask questions and meet the staffers and counselors who will supervise activities at the parks this summer, Tribendis said.
There also will be refreshments available and fun activities going on at the park on Wednesday.
Such programs are important, Tribendis said, because “there are close to 50,000 kids in our area alone that would (otherwise) go without food in the summertime.”
About 65 percent of Wilkes-Barre Area School District students receive free lunches at school. The percentages range from a low of 38 percent of students at Coughlin High School to a high of 87 percent at Daniel J. Flood Elementary School, according to data from Tribendis.
She said the CEO provides summertime free-lunch programs in Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties. Currently, there are 80 participating sites — 40 of them in Luzerne County. At least half of a school districts’ students must receive free or reduced-price lunches to participate.
Six sites in Wilkes-Barre will able to have activities for children — the “fun” part of Food-n-Fun @ the Park — thanks to a grant to the YMCA from the Walmart Foundation.
Lunches, programs and activities will be offered at the following sites in Wilkes-Barre:
• Coal Street Park: Coal and North Sherman streets.
• Iron Triangle Playground: Corner of Hickory and Metcalf streets.
• Madison/Flood Park: Corner of East Maple and North Washington streets.
• Huber Park: Stanton and Huber streets.
• Wilkes-Barre YMCA: 40 W. Northampton St. Note: Space at the Y is limited to the first 40 children per day.
No registration is necessary. Just show up, Tribendis said.