Free lunch program for kids starting in North Liberty

Food, activities for children during summer break

Education, Education Rotator, K-12 Education, News,
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May 26, 2014 | 7:19 pm

NORTH LIBERTY — A community organization is stepping up to give North Liberty children a good lunch and fun activities during summer break.

The North Liberty Unity Coalition is starting a free summer lunch program Mondays through Fridays from June 9 through Aug. 18.

“I think there are children in the community who probably will not have a good lunch if this isn’t provided, and I just think that’s very important for kids to have that,” said North Liberty Unity Coalition member Judy McRoberts.

Her organization started in 2005 with a mission to enhance the health and well-being of North Liberty children, families and neighborhoods.

They’ve kicked around the idea of a summer lunch program for some years, but when they inquired with the federal government about getting funding as similar programs in other local communities do, they were told North Liberty’s demographics did not meet guidelines.

A few months ago they discussed it again and decided to do it without government funding because they felt the need was there. There are about 550 North Liberty children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch at their schools, according to the North Liberty Unity Coalition.

The only requirement for the program, however, is participants be 18 years old or younger.

“We don’t want it to feel like a charity program,” said Tracey Mulcahey, a Unity Coalition member and North Liberty’s assistant city administrator. “We want it to feel like a summer program that lunch is just a bonus of.”

In that regard, an hour of supervised recreational activities will follow the 30-minute lunch, which will start at 11:30 a.m.

The city will help with that on Mondays and Thursdays, with the North Liberty Community Library providing activities one day and the city’s Community Center the other. Also, Johnson County Social Services has committed to providing a few hundred passes for children who need assistance paying for entry to the pool, Mulcahey said.

Volunteers are being sought to prepare and serve lunch and to supervise the children.

Organizers estimate they need about $5,000 in donations to run the program through the summer break. About $2,500 has been raised so far, Mulcahey said.

People interested in donating money or volunteering should contact Mulcahey at tmulcahey@northlibertyiowa.org or (319) 626-5712.

How to help

The North Liberty Unity Coalition is seeking money and volunteers for its summer lunch program.

•To donate or volunteer, contact Tracey Mulcahey at tmulcahey@northlibertyiowa.org or (319) 626-5712.

•For more information, go to nlsummerlunch.wordpress.com.

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