A local grant will allow West Jefferson leaders to provide free children’s lunches in the parks this summer, starting next week.
New Parks and Rec Director Marci Darlington announced the coming “Lunch & Learn” program last week during her first official report to council.
The $5,000 grant was provided by Battelle.
When Battelle had extra funds for the local community earlier this year, business leaders asked food pantry representatives to write a grant request, Darlington explained. The original plan was to implement a lunch and learn program in the schools. The lessons were to focus on how to plant a garden.
But by the time the money was received in April, the schools were wrapping up the year, and it was too late to introduce a new program, she said.
Instead, the lunches will be available in alternating village parks — Tuesday in Westwood Park and Thursday in Converse Park — in order to reach children who can walk to the parks, which are in different neighborhoods, Darlington said.
Battelle reps emphasized that the program should include an educational component — the company plans to send several of its own employees to the lunches to speak, she added.
The first featured speaker will be Vicki Germann, who will speak on summer safety. Germann works in the missing persons unit of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
“I don’t want any of these kids becoming a statistic,” she said.
Lunches will be served to individuals under age 18 at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Darlington said she does not know how many children to expect or what age groups will be larger. Speakers will need to be able to adapt to the attendees, she said.
For more information, call Darlington at 740-490-8317.
Madison County Vineyard Church is also running a summer lunch program at four locations in the county through a partnership with the Ohio Department of Education. Locations, dates and times are: Madison County Vineyard Church, June 24, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Mt. Sterling Community Center, July 8, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and London Public Library, July 18 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Lunch will be served to anyone 18 years old or younger. The program runs Monday through Friday from June 6 to Aug. 5.
Lunch will be served at the church from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; at the London pool from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; and at the London Church of the Nazarene from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
From June 13 to until Aug. 5, lunch will be served at the Mt. Sterling Community Center from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
A free kindergarten readiness program is also being offered through partnerships with Madison County Head Start and Early Childhood Program.
Reach Audrey Ingram at 740-852-1616, ext. 1615 or on Twitter @Audrey.MP