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Come and get it

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Quade and Kendrix Wheelbarger pose for a photo with their lunch sacks during the Polk County Health Center and Community Outreach Ministries’ free lunch distribution at Cribbs Family Youth Park on Wednesday, July 8. The two attended with their mom, Emily Wheelbarger, and little sister, Camri.

Local kids can enjoy free lunches at Cribbs Family Youth Park this month.

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Lailah Titterington proudly shows off her lunch sack as her brother Sam and sister Hadi retrieve their lunches from the table. 

The meals, offered through the Polk County Health Center and Community Outreach Ministries, are provided on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the park. Adult meals are $1. 

“It’s going well,” PCHC educator Carol Bookhout said. “We had a little bit of a slow start on Monday, but numbers have grown and we served 91 on Wednesday. We are feeling like it’s a success so far.”

The meals have been so successful, Bookhout said, they ran out of food earlier this week and had to turn some potential recipients away.

“We discovered that pizza is very popular,” she said. “We did run out of food that day, and we have made adjustments so that doesn’t happen again.”

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Karen Tweed, Brittany Campbell and Russ Emory pose for a photo while greeting the kids and families at Cribbs Family Youth Park. 

Bookhout said organizers are able to source the popular pizza and other meals from Community Outreach Ministries, which handles purchasing. 

Meals are prepared beforehand at First Christian Church Bolivar, where pastor Bill Nichols said it’s gone smoothly.

“They are doing a nice job of getting food prepared and to the park in a timely manner,” he said. 

Bookhout said that’s due to the experienced hands at work. 

“They’re just good,” she said. 

But, she said, the effort to feed Polk County kids and families could always use more hands. 

Meal preparation takes place from 10:30 a.m. to noon on weekdays at the church, she said. Volunteers set up and serve at the park from around 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 or 12:45 p.m.

“We’re happy to take volunteers,” she said, adding that it’s important to call the health center at 326-7250 first to schedule a time to volunteer, rather than just showing up at the park or church. 

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Families spend time together on the playground equipment at the park. 

“I don't want to discourage people from volunteering, but I also want them to have something to do,” she said. 

Several community organizations and businesses have stepped up to help already, she said. 

“We’ve got a lot of good support,” she said. 

However, she said the effort could also use financial help directed to Community Outreach Ministries. Call 326-2769 or visit for more information. 

The health center can also take donations toward the cost of to-go boxes and cutlery, she said. 

“Because of those things, we’re able to help feed the community,” she said. 

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The splash pad proved a popular spot between bites Wednesday. 

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