Food bank lunch program starts Monday

From June 4 through Aug. 10, the Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) will offer free and healthy lunches to Sonoma County children 18 years of age and younger.

There are three Summer Lunch program sites in the Valley. Lunch is free, open to all children, and operates Monday through Friday during lunchtime.

In Sonoma, the program will operate at the Sonoma Valley Regional Library, 755 W. Napa St., from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. from June 4 through Aug. 10; at the Springs Village Apartments, 200 Fuente Lane from 12:30 to 1 p.m. from June 4 through Aug. 3; and at the Boys & Girls Club of Sonoma Valley Maxwell Clubhouse, 100 W. Verano from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. from June 11 through Aug. 10.

In addition to a nutritious lunch, some of the program sites will offer fun activities to help kids stay physically active and academically engaged during the summer break. Program highlights in years past have included visits from the Free Bookmobile of Sonoma County, the Imaginists and the Creek Stewardship Program.

The food bank will also offer a variety of staff-led activities, including creative arts and crafts, a pedal-powered fruit smoothie bike, which will introduce children to healthy alternatives to sugary drinks, and organized water games that will provide opportunities for children to play together and stay cool on hot summer days.

Multiple program sites will also offer free fruits and vegetables once a week allowing low-income families to increase their access to nutritious produce. By layering services and offering both meals and groceries, the food bank aims to decrease the instance of hunger a family faces each week, in a convenient and easy-to-access way.

“The summer months are a critical time for children who participate in the National School Lunch program during the school year,” said Itzul Gutierrez, REFB Children’s Program Manager. “When schools break for the summer, many children lose access to free and reduced-cost school meals. Summer Lunch addresses this meal gap by providing nutritious meals to children in our community, because let’s face it, hunger doesn’t take a vacation.”

For immediate assistance or more information about the Summer Lunch program, you can call the REFB directly at 523-7903.

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