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Summer lunch program begins in July


Summer lunches will be available at the Cribbs Family Youth Park from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays from July 5 through August 11.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provides meals for children ages 0-18. The program is available to recipients regardless of residency or income.

The SFSP’s aim is to serve meals “to children who do not have access to free or reduced meals at school during the summer months,” says Michelle Morris, director of Polk County Health Center.

Under the direction of the health center, the lunch program is made successful through efforts to organize and aid volunteers during meal preparation and distribution.

“The Summer Food Program has become an integral part of our community each summer,” Morris shares. “Many families enjoy the benefits of receiving a meal each weekday. It provides an opportunity for families to get out of the house, spend some time in one of the fantastic parks with their children, and enjoy a nutritious meal. PCHC and our partners are thrilled to be a part of providing this program to our community.”

The lunch program is also made possible with funding from the USDA and sponsorships through Ozarks Food Harvest (OFH) in Springfield.

Community Outreach Ministries (COM) is also heavily involved in the program. In partnership with OFH, COM provides administrative assistance, and food supplies are made available from the OFH pantry.

The lunch program has been in operation for seven years. In the past, the program has been organized by Bolivar Schools and Community Outreach Ministries.

Throughout the years, many local organizations, churches, and businesses have been involved in the program by signing up as volunteers to prepare and serve meals.

“SFSP truly continues to be a community effort. We appreciate the opportunity to work with and serve alongside all our fantastic volunteers,” says Morris.

Throughout the summer, children will not only be able to grab a free meal, they will also have the chance to participate in entertaining and educational activities. According to Morris, the lunch program at the park will feature family-friendly activities hosted by various community organizations, such as Polk County Library, Polk County Humane Society, Bolivar Police Department, Kolton Vandeweerd Memorial Fund, Harvest Assembly, and Burrell Behavioral Health.

In order to make the program successful, volunteers are needed to assist with cooking and serving duties. Cooks will be needed from 9:45 to 11:15 a.m., and servers will be needed from 11:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

For more information about the summer lunch program or to sign up as a volunteer, contact Carol Bookhout or Michelle Morris at the Polk County Health Center by phone at 417-326-7250.