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YMCA Summer Program Provides Free Lunches for Children

Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA Hosts “Food and Fun at the Park”

The Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA is helping to combat childhood hunger with the return of Food and Fun at the Park. The program provides free lunches, snacks and activities for kids all summer long.

The program will serve eight locations throughout Luzerne County:

  • McGlynn Learning Center at Boulevard Townhomes, 72 Midland Court, Wilkes-Barre
  • McGlynn Learning Center at Mineral Springs Village, 233 Eastview Drive, Wilkes-Barre
  • Gather Community Space, 97 South Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre at the First Presbyterian Church. This site can serve 24 youth on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park (formerly Coal Street Park), 38 Coal Street, Wilkes-Barre
  • Kirby Park Pavilion #3, 160 Market Street, Wilkes-Barre
  • Jefferson Park, New Street and Cornelia Street, Pittston
  • Duryea Community Park, Washington Street, Duryea
  • White Haven Community Library, Rear, 121 Towanda Street, White Haven

Food and Fun at the Park kicked off on June 20 at all locations with the exception of the Gather Community Space, which will begin on June 27. The program runs every Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until August 12. Food service begins at 11:30 a.m. with safe, supervised activities before and after lunch. It will not be held on July 4, and outdoor programs will be cancelled during rain.

The program serves children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Preschool children are welcome but must be accompanied by a caregiver over the age of 16.

Food and Fun at the Park began in Wilkes-Barre in 2011. Since inception, they have served over 73,000 meals to at least 3,500 individual children.

“The Food and Fun program has been a great success in many ways,” said Michele Schasberger, Healthy Communities Coordinator at the YMCA. “Not only does it enable the Y to reach out to the community and feed kids during the summer, as well as providing some park supervision, it also helps create social bonds and has provided first jobs for a lot of high school students through our partnership with the Workforce Development Board. Our staff returns year after year, going from being park site assistants to site supervisors. This is the kind of holistic program that really helps the Y to show that the organization is for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.”

Food and Fun at the Park is crucial for children who rely on free or reduced lunches during the school year. The program ensures that kids still have access to nutritious meals over summer break.

The Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA has partnered with several organizations to make Food and Fun possible. Mt. Zion Food Services will provide meals for most of the sites. Local organizations and municipalities have offered use of their facilities. The Luzerne/Schuylkill Workforce Investment Board and PA Career Link are providing summer park assistants.

The program is funded in part by the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Preventative Health and Health Services Block Grant via the City of Wilkes-Barre Health Department.

To learn more about Food and Fun at the Park, visit the YMCA’s website or call (570) 823-2191.

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