Metro Parks was recently selected as one of only 15 program providers across the country to receive a grant from the National League of Cities (NLC) and Food Research and Action Center.
This grant is part of their CHAMPS initiative, “Combating Hunger through Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs,” a national effort to reduce childhood hunger in America. Additionally, Metro Parks was also recently selected as one of the first to receive state funding to provide afterschool meals for at-risk children up to age 18 through the federally funded Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Through the support of these funding partners, Metro Parks’ CHAMPS program will launch on Dec. 9 to distribute nutritious meals at:
Peoples Center (1602 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Way)
Portland Avenue Community Center (3513 E. Portland Ave.)
Meals will be served from 3:30-4:30 pm, followed by enrichment activities from 4:30-5:30 pm (excluding holidays).
The program has been funded for operation through Aug. 29, 2014. The locations were selected based on low-income criteria defined by the USDA. No pre-registration is required. Participation is on a drop-in basis, with free meals and activities available for any child up to the age of 18.
“Our goal is simple,” said program coordinator Adrienne Chaney. “We want to ensure the health and well-being of Tacoma’s youth by helping provide them with the necessary meals to reduce hunger and improve access to nutritious food provided in a safe, supervised space where they can enjoy positive childhood experiences.”
Meal reimbursement will be provided by the USDA through the Office of Public Instruction, while the staffing and program development funding for the program will be provided through the National League of Cities CHAMPS (Cities Combating Child Hunger through Afterschool and Summer Meals Programs) grant.
Programs like these at-risk afterschool centers provide a much needed service. They give children a safe place to go after school where they receive nutritious food that gives them the energy they need to concentrate on homework and join their friends in physical, educational, and social activities.
Metro Parks Tacoma has been a long-time partner with the USDA, providing free lunches for children in parks throughout the summer. The expanded program will continue to provide meals during the summer months, in addition to the new after school service, when free and reduced meals are not available and many children struggle to find food.
Program meals will be provided by Subway. The company was selected through a process, which evaluated service providers based on the nutritional value of the meal provided, ease of access and delivery of food, and overall cost.
Subway has been the contracted provider for Metro Parks’ free Summer Lunch program for the past two seasons and will now expand its service to include the afterschool meal program.
In addition to nourishment, the program will provide a safe, supervised environment where children will have an opportunity to receive homework assistance, participate in group games or enjoy arts and crafts activities.