While the number of low-income children relying on free lunch services in Sonoma County has seen an unfortunate increase within the past year, the Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) has a proactive response. The food bank's summer lunch program is designed to help during the summer months, when children who receive free school lunches may go hungry. When the program began, REFB accommodated 20,000 children. Now in its eighth year, REFB provides roughly 29,000 children with free daily lunches.
Children can make use of any of 42 lunch sites merely by showing up; no paperwork or parental accompaniment is required. Most lunch sites will offer recreational opportunities conducive to healthy living, including an introduction to vegetable gardening and food education, arts and crafts, and sports. Furthermore, the "Salsa Bike" will be an interactive, periodic activity to promote healthy lifestyles by teaching children how to make nutritional salsa and fresh fruit smoothies while simultaneously advocating biking and regular exercise.
The REFB plans to serve approximately 96,000 fresh lunches this summer. The program runs from June 6 to Aug. 9, securely overlapping most school calendars. More information and a full list of lunch sites are online at www.refb.org or at Redwood Empire Food Bank, 3320 Industrial Drive, Santa Rosa. 707.527.7900.