Free Summer Meals Program For Kids And Youth Begins June 12 At Clyde Park District

No child in Cicero needs to go hungry this summer, thanks to the Clyde Park District. Starting June 12, the park district will provide free lunches and snacks Monday through Friday to children and youth aged 18 and under. The meals will be served at Cicero Stadium on Laramie Avenue and the Manor Park Community building on Park Avenue. The Summer Meals program will continue through August 18.

“Summer can be a tough time for families who are struggling to put food on the table,” said Mark Kraft, Clyde Park District’s recreational director. “When children are away from the classroom, they are also away from their most consistent source of food – free and reduced-price school meals. By participating in the Summer Meals program, the Clyde Park District is making sure that kids who count on those lunches during the school year have access to nourishing meals when school’s out.”

Any kid under 18 can eat lunch at the two sites from 11 am to 1 pm, with snacks available from 3-4 pm. The meals are offered on-site only; food cannot be carried out. Parents may accompany their children, but meals may not be served to adults over 18.

Clyde Park District’s Summer Meals program is provided in partnership with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, a nonprofit food bank that works through a network of 700 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, mobile programs, children’s programs, and older adult programs throughout Cook County. The meals are prepared each day by Gourmet Gorilla, a Chicago-based catering service that specializes in providing healthy, kid-friendly meals.

As a summer meals site, Clyde Park District is required to meet the high standards set by the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Staff is trained in food handling, to make sure the meals are kept at a safe temperature until they are served. The District also must keep detailed records of the number of children served each day.
“The Greater Chicago Food Depository encourages us to increase the numbers of children we feed each summer,” Kraft said. “So we really want to make sure that everyone knows that all children are welcome to join us for summer meals.”

The Clyde Park District summer meals program also welcomes groups of children (like camps or daycare programs). “Just let us know 72 hours in advance that you’ll be bringing a group, so we can make sure we have enough food available for all of the children,” Kraft said.

“This program was set up to ensure that all children have access to nutritious meals during the summer months, so their bodies and minds are healthy, strong, and ready for the next school year,” Kraft said. “But only about 14 percent of children who receive free or reduced-cost school lunches take part in summer meals programs. We’re hoping that we can increase those numbers and keep kids healthy and strong by making sure Cicero families know that the Clyde Park District is offering these free, nutritious meals to their children.”

For more information about the Clyde Park District Summer Meals program, please call the District office at 708-652-3545.

For more information on the Greater Chicago Food Depository, please visit their website, www.chicagosfoodbank.org.