This year’s Meet Up and Eat Up program started serving meals last month and will continue through early August at Grand Haven’s Central Park, Lake Hills Elementary School, River Haven Village, Robinson Elementary School and The Salvation Army in Grand Haven. The program provides meals to anyone ages 18 and younger.
Last year, more than 10,000 meals were served in the Grand Haven area, said Amy Sheele, a health educator for the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.
Grand Haven Area Public Schools’ food service department administers the meals, and Ottawa Food helps connect the community with the program, which receives funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In addition to serving the public, some of the locations also partner with and serve campers participating in the Northwest Ottawa Recreation Authority’s Recreation Summer School program.
Lake Hills Elementary School is a new location for the summer program. While some of the attendees are from the NORA program, local residents have also participated in Meet Up and Eat Up, Sheele said. That site averaged about 40 children a day last month.
The Central Park site averaged 147 people a day last month, which is down from 175 last year.
So far, the number of children receiving meals at the River Haven community is also down from a daily average of 37 last summer to 28 kids this year.
The Salvation Army site averaged 80 children a day last summer. It averaged 90 last month.
The Robinson Elementary School location has averaged 18 students a day, Sheele said.
In addition to providing food, Sheele said the program is also a way for children to interact with their friends during their summer break.
After spending time in Lake Michigan, Claire Meulenberg and Zachary Meulenberg went to Central Park for lunch with their mom, Jill. Claire, 10, and Zachary, 6, said some of the meals have included foods such as sandwiches, Bosco sticks and chicken nuggets.
Jill Meulenberg said they’ve arranged to meet up with friends and cousins as they’ve participated in the program.
Sarah Edgar said the program not only provides food for children, but it’s inclusive and fun for everyone.
Community members and organizations have partnered to help make the program possible. Sheele said the collaboration helps show children that adults care if they have a great summer and access to food.
With a month left for the 2018 program, Sheele encourages people to visit a location or help spread the word.
Times, dates and locations of the Meet Up and Eat Up sites:
Grand Haven Central Park
Mondays and Wednesdays, until Aug. 8: 12-12:30 p.m.
Rain location: Central High School
Lake Hills Elementary School
Tuesdays and Thursdays, until Aug. 10: 12-12:30 p.m.
River Haven Village
Under the pavilion, Monday through Friday, until Aug. 10: 12-12:30 p.m. lunch, 12-1 p.m. activities
Robinson Elementary School
Monday through Friday, until Aug. 6: breakfast, 9:10-9:40 a.m.; lunch, 12-12:30 p.m.; dinner, 4:30-5 p.m.
The Salvation Army in Grand Haven
Monday through Friday, until Aug. 10: 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.