Mayor Don Wesely and officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today participated in a celebration of the Summer Food Service Program for youth. The event took place at the new "F" Street Recreation Center, one of 31 sites serving free meals to young people ages three through 18 this summer. The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) partners with the Food and Nutrition Service of the Nebraska Department of Education to offer the program.
"Research shows a direct link between eating a nutritious diet and the mental alertness and intellectual development of children," said Mayor Wesely. "During the summer when kids are no longer receiving school lunches, this partnership fills a real need in providing them with good balanced meals."
The summer food program began in Lincoln in 1980. In the summer of 2001, 24 sites fed an average of 664 children a day. This summer, the program is serving about 800 meals a day, and attendance is expected to increase. The hours and dates vary at each site (see attached list).
"We are very proud of this outstanding program and are pleased the USDA is working to expand the service," said Bruce Dart, Director of the Health Department. Those wishing to sign up can call the LLCHD at 441-8045.
At today’s presentation, the USDA introduced Power Panther, the national "spokes character" for USDA Food and Nutrition Services who promotes the "Eat Smart, Play Hard" campaign. The Department of Education arranged for UNL athletes to visit with the kids, and the children received gifts from the Dairy Council of Central States and the Nebraska Beef Council.