‘Summer Kickoff’ held at Mt. Scott Park

Find out when and where Free Lunch + Play programs are offered in outer East Portland, now through August 25 …

Youngsters will find fun activities, and a free lunch, at many sites this summer.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) held what they called a “Summer Field Day Celebration” midday on July 10 to kick off their “Free Lunch + Play” programs at Mt. Scott Park, in the Foster-Powell neighborhood.

In the park, some kids were playing in supervised group activities, others were participating making crafts, and yet others were learning the basis of golf.

Golf, anyone? It’s one of the sports offerings at the PP&R summer programs.

Feeding hungry children is an important part of their Free Lunch + Play program, says PP&R Director Mike Abbaté.

“We’re doing this event today to highlight this program, because 57% of young Portlanders qualify for free or reduced-price lunch during the school year, which means that during the summer months, nearly 50,000 Portland children face hunger daily,” said PP&R Director Mike Abbaté.

“Our ‘Free Lunch + Play’ program supports families by offering nutritious meals and recreational activities during the summer recess,” Abbaté told East Portland News as a brief program began to honor major contributors.

Commissioner of Parks, Amanda Fritz says that the PP&R summer lunch programs are provided where there’s the most need.

The Parks Commissioner, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, joined Abbaté for photos and a brief press conference.

Asked about the cancellation of some popular summer program long long offered some parks, Fritz responded, “We’re really focusing on the places they can’t do without it; the less affluent neighborhoods.

“We appreciate when neighbors try to keep their programs,” Fritz continued. “We are finding great turnouts at the sites that we do have; [and where] the children are able to find a way to those. So, concentrating in those areas makes more sense.”

Before lunch, the kids participating in the program gather for a presentation of ceremonial checks from Bank of America and Comcast, major contributors to the program.

It’s lunch time, and youngsters receive their bag luncheons from PP&R staff members.

At noon, the kids lined up to have their hands washed, then took plastic-bagged lunches. Then, they sat at long rows of picnic tables to enjoy their free summer luncheon meal.

It’s all good for participants Christian McKee and his daughter Zadie, who say they come to play in Portland parks nearly every day.

“Portland Parks provides a terrific and steady part of our activities on a daily basis,” said parent Christian McKee. We appreciate having the summer lunch available, and really enjoy participating in the activities that they offer,” he added.

Free Lunch + Play sites in outer Southeast Portland are located at:

  • Arbor Glen Apartments
  • Bellrose Station Apartments
  • Gilbert Heights Park
  • Harrison Park
  • Lents Park
  • Lincoln Park
  • Mill Park
  • Parklane Park
  • Raymond Park
  • Ventura Park
  • West Powellhurst Park

Free Lunch + Play sites in outer Northeast Portland are found at:

  • Argay Park
  • Eastgate Station Apartments
  • Montavilla Park
  • Senn’s Dairy Park
  • Wilkes Park

These programs are offered Monday through Friday, unless otherwise noted, through August 25, and offer sports, games, and arts and crafts.

For specific times, addresses and other information, see the PP&R Free Lunch + Play webpage: CLICK HERE.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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