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Free meals available for kids across North Clackamas

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“During the school year, more than 100,000 Oregon children eat free or reduced-price school meals each day. When the school year ends, so does this important resource,” said Kristin Heying, who is in her first year being involved with the Summer Meals Program at North Clackamas School District, as an AmeriCorps VISTA for Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon.

PHOTO BY SIMONE CROWE - Parents bide their time while children work on crafts projects with staff from the NCPRD RecMobile; this event takes place Tuesday mornings behind the Ledding Library.“The Summer Meals Program fills that nutritional gap and also provides fun activities such as art projects and games for kids to participate in after eating a nutritious lunch or snack,” she said.

The program is open to all young people ages 1 to 18, and no proof of income is required.

Eight sites in the north Clackamas County area are open at various times and dates to serve the free meals and provide crafts and activities — see the sidebar for exact information.

But, Heying pointed out, the school district needs the community’s help spreading the word about the meals program.

In fact, one of her duties is to increase participation and work with outreach to organizations and businesses within the boundaries of the school district to get the word out about the program.

PHOTO BY SIMONE CROWE - Marion and Logan Perry enjoy a healthy snack at Milwaukie's Ledding Library, as part of the Summer Meals Program.The meals are funded through USDA Food & Nutrition Services and North Clackamas School District, and, although the menu varies from site to site, a sample lunch is a turkey and cheese sandwich, cucumber slices and orange wedges, Heying said.

Kathy Harrison has been the volunteer coordinator for the NCSD for 10 years, and one of her duties is overseeing the Summer Meals Program.

“We find that in the summer, kids don’t get consistent meals, like they do during the school year, and we don’t want to see any kids go hungry,” she said.

“Everyone learns better when they’ve eaten,” Harrison said, adding that last year the program served 11,000 meals.

Community partners

Because one of the community partners with the program is Milwaukie’s Ledding Library, last year 396 free books were handed out and 283 children signed up for the summer reading program. This year the Oak Lodge Library has joined as a partner.

“We couldn’t make this happen without our community partners and the community, [who realize] it is important to make food available to kids all year. And for them to have a safe, fun place to eat,” Harrison said.

She added that she is always looking for more partners to participate in the program, and she also would appreciate any donations to help with staffing the sites and to provide materials for the crafts and other activities.

Anyone interested in donating to the program may send an email to Harrison at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call her at 503-353-6019.

Community partners include Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon; the North Clackamas Parks & Recreation District, which sends the RecMobile to certain sites; the Ledding Library; Geller Silvas and Associates, which owns two low-income apartment complexes; Metro Family Services, which runs a CAFE program at Lot Whitcombe Elementary School; and Northwest Family Services, which will hold free soccer camps at two NCSD middle schools.

Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon

PHFO is a charitable organization that seeks to raise awareness about hunger, while connecting people to nutrition programs and advocating for changes to end hunger before it begins.

“During the summertime, a big part of our work is support at summertime meal sites. With our Summer Meals Support Fund we distribute grants to summer meal sites across the state, by helping sites with any technical issues, and by helping get the word out,” said Simone Crowe, the communications manager for Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon.

What Crowe likes best about the program is that the meals are open to all children.

“It eliminates stigma when families and kids see summer meal sites as places where everyone can and should go. Summer meal sites are places for kids and teenagers to play, eat and meet their neighbors,” she said.

People should bring their children and support the program, Crowe said, because of the free food and the enrichment activities at each site.

“Summer meal sites like ones in North Clackamas help reduce the ‘summer learning slide’ that kids often experience when they return to school in the fall. High schoolers should also come because who doesn’t appreciate a free, healthy and tasty lunch,” she said.

Crowe added that the RecMobile and enthusiastic North Clackamas Parks & Rec staff travel around to different meal sites and have crafts, games and activities set up and ready to go.

PHFO has been working with the NCSD since 2004, providing financial support and more to increase participation at the summer meals sites, said Marcella Miller, child hunger prevention manager at PHFO.

“Summer meals bring so much value to communities. It’s not just about providing much-needed summer nutrition to kids, when some families face tight food budgets with their kids out of school. It’s also about all the enrichment and activities, keeping kids activated and learning during the summer, making spaces for them to meet up with friends,” she said.

Free lunch and more

To find out more about local summer meal programs throughout Oregon, including a map, the public is encouraged to visit summerfoodOregon.org, or call 211.

The dates, times and locations for the North Clackamas Summer Food Program are listed below:

Ardenwald Elementary, 8950 S.E. 36th Ave., Milwaukie noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, July 6- 15 and Aug. 15-25

NCPRD RecMobile visits: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, July 6-Aug. 10.

Whitcomb Elementary School, 7400 S.E. Thompson Road, Milwaukie 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, July 6-21 and Aug. 15-25.

Oak Grove School, 2150 S.E. Torbank Road, Oak Grove 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, July 6-Sept. 2.

NCPRD RecMobile visits: Thursdays, July 7-Aug. 11.

The Terrace at Mt. Scott Apartments, 10125 S.E. Bob Schumacher Road, Happy Valley noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with activities until 2 p.m. July 6-28.

Town Center Station Apartments, 8719 S.E. Monterey Ave., Happy Valley noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday, with activities until 2 p.m., July 6-Aug. 22.

Ledding Library, 10660 S.E. 21st Ave., Milwaukie 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesdays only and snack only, July 12-Aug. 9; NCPRD RecMobile visits.

Schellenberg Technical Center, 14450 S.E. Johnson Road, Milwaukie 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, July 7-29, closed July 14-15. Ice cream social on July 8; Free.

Pathway to God Church, 11900 S.E. Stanley Ave., Milwaukie noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, July 18-22.

To learn more about Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon, visit oregonhunger.org.