Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Eat smart, play hard at this summer's free lunch program

Where can you enjoy a great BBQ, see the circus, play hard, win prizes and rub elbows with the mayor AND the Padres Friar all for free? – the Summer Fun Café Kickoff BBQ, of course! The barbecue is Thursday, June 25 from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at Skyline Hills Community Park, 8285 Skyline Drive (92114).

The kickoff event will feature San Diego’s own Fern Street Circus with jugglers, acrobats, aerialists and live music. A free BBQ lunch for all children and accompanying adults will be provided. This family-friendly event will also feature the San Diego Padres Friar and Pad Squad, fun games with lots of prizes, an inflatable jumper, crafts, music and prize drawings.

Summer is a difficult nutritional time for many children. Not only does food insecurity increase among low-income families during the summer months, but children are also at greater risk for obesity as they lose access to the school meals they rely on during the school year. The summer meal program gives children the nutritious meals they need to remain healthy throughout the summer. 

San Diego Unified’s Summer Fun Café meals also support the community’s other summer programs and help draw children into educational, enrichment and recreational activities that keep them learning, engaged, active and safe during school vacation.  The EAT SMART. PLAY HARD. theme translates to eating healthy food and being physically active every day.

“It is important that San Diego learns about this valuable summer lunch program for children,” said Gary Petill, San Diego Unified¹s Food Services Director.  “It’s fun, it’s free, it’s easy and when the kids head back to school in the fall, they will be strong and ready to learn.”

San Diego Unified has offered the summer lunch program since 2003, and now serves nearly 250,000 meals and snacks each summer. The program is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture’s “Seamless Summer Feeding Option” and will be at 58 sites: 27 park and recreation centers, 14 community and military sites, and 17 schools.  For a complete schedule and locations, go to and select Summer Fun Café or go to Participating in the program requires no paperwork, reservations or income qualifications.

More than 1,500 children and their parents/guardians are expected to attend the kickoff event. The community resource fair at the event provides participants with a wide variety of information about services from community partners.  Additionally, every family goes home with a bag of fresh fruit and vegetables from the San Diego Food Bank or Feeding America San Diego.  The San Diego Honda Dealers are underwriting the cost of the adult meals at the kickoff event, and General Mills is sponsoring parent participation in other BBQ events.