Did you know that about 15% of Oregon residents lack regular access to affordable, nutritious food in sufficient quantity? Historically, the state has one of the higher food insecurity rates in the nation.
Over the past decade, THPRD has emerged as a reliable meal source for those who need it most. The district is expected to serve more than 50,000 free meals to Beaverton-area kids in need this year.
The Rec Mobile has been instrumental in THPRD’s service to undernourished neighborhoods. In the summer of 2009, the program partnered with Beaverton School District to serve nearly 2,000 free summer lunches at Center Street Park.
“The neighborhood didn’t have a school, and the district asked if the Rec Mobile would help with lunches,” said Lynda Myers, the center supervisor at Cedar Hills.
The Rec Mobile continues to support the school district’s USDA-funded Summer Food Service Program, providing recreational activities at several apartment complexes and other low-income sites where free meals are served.
“When we take the Rec Mobile to school lunch sites, we know we’re hitting the right
demographic,” Myers said.
In 2012, Cedar Hills became a mobile host of the program under the direction of Cathi Ellis (now a program coordinator at Conestoga Recreation & Aquatic Center). More than 5,000 meals were served that summer, and the number has increased each year. Myers said she expects Cedar Hills to serve about 12,000 meals this summer.
“The district delivers and serves the meals, with our assistance, in the covered area of the back parking lot,” McCann said. “It’s easily accessible for families in the neighborhood to find.”
No registration or fees are required for anyone 18 and under to receive a free lunch. Anyone over 18 can purchase a lunch for just $3.
Another USDA program has recently enabled the district to exponentially expand its ability to provide nutritious meals. THPRD now provides healthy meals and snacks, at no cost, to participants in after school programs.
Conestoga began participation in the program in 2014. Both Cedar Hills and Garden Home Recreation Center followed suit within the past year, Myers said.
At Cedar Hills, staff picks up the food at nearby Cedar Park Middle School, completes any necessary preparation, and makes it available for kids to eat as soon as they arrive at the center.
“The kids get off the vans charging. They can hardly wait to eat,” Myers said. “Some ate lunch as early as 10:30 in the morning, and by 2:30 they’re starving.”
The program will serve about 40,000 meals during the school year, Myers said, Kids are getting nutrition, and THPRD staff is enjoying an added benefit – a dramatic decrease in aggressive behavior.
“The director of our afterschool program could see an immediate change, within the first week,” Myers said. “It’s had a calming effect. Kids are more patient with each other. We have had fewer incidents of aggression.”
Click here for more information on THPRD’s after-school care programs.