It was another fun summer of Meals on the Move, serving more than 5,000 free lunches to kids in Aurora and distributing over 14,300 pounds of produce!
For our sixth year, we tried something a little different. Historically the summer lunch program has served kids one location at a time, often starting at 10am and finishing at 3pm. However, we found that the parks where we served meals outside of traditional lunch times had the lowest attendance. This year, to maximize the best part of the day, we served lunch at four different parks – two locations at a time – between 11am and 1:30pm.
We were happy to return to Phillips Park and McCarty Park, where it’s always fun to see kids playing in the splashpads. We also added two new locations to our route. It had been a few years since there was a stop in the northeast part of the city. Garfield Park is a great location as it’s central to several different neighborhoods, and has a playground, a shelter, and access to parking.
William V Plum Park is a smaller neighborhood park that we chose because it’s located in a part of the city with a high density of families with children. Early in the summer, a parent at Plum Park told us that usually the park was pretty empty, but that now her son enjoyed coming to get lunch and see his school friends. Since we started serving lunches there every weekday, the park became abuzz with local families – sitting at the picnic tables, eating lunches in the shade, kids playing on the playground. This sense of community within the neighborhood was everything we want Meals on the Move to be!
In addition to serving lunches for kids, it was also our second summer offering Friday Fresh Mart where families can take home fresh produce. We know that produce can be some of the most expensive items at the grocery store and consequently the first to be left off the shopping list. Our goal has been to help meet this need and provide a variety of produce for families to take home each week. We sought to offer common staples, such as onions and potatoes, as well as items families might not have tried before, like spaghetti squash. Not to mention fun favorites like pineapple and watermelon!
We have learned over the past two summers that Friday Fresh Mart provides a valued resource for families in Aurora. When it’s been too hot or rainy for kids to come eat lunch in the parks, parents still come out to pick up produce to take home. Friday Fresh Mart also provides non-perishable meals for kids to eat over the weekend, allowing us to offer lunch for kids seven days a week.
Overall, it was one of our best summers yet, reaching hundreds of families across the city! Planning for next summer is about to begin, and we’re excited to see what 2024 has in store.