Summer program serves 6,000-plus meals

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All summer, Sequim children had the chance for full stomachs thanks to the Boys & Girls Club.


For the first time in Sequim, a summer lunch program called the Simplified Summer Food Program served 6,322 meals (1,517 breakfasts and 4,805 lunches) to children ages 1-18.


Mary Budke, executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, said the event was a huge success and was even near Port Angeles’ numbers.


“We were stepping out,” she said. “We weren’t waiting for them to come to us. We wanted to help as many kids as we could.”


Thursday, Aug. 29, was the last day of the 10-week program that served nutritionally balanced meals on weekdays from the Sequim Boys & Girls Club, Carrie Blake Park and Elk Creek Apartments.


The program grew from an idea by Jan Eadie, Mike Flynn and Leeann Grasseth to offer summer lunches, which grew to include volunteers from eight local churches, three paid part-time high schoolers and more volunteer youths.


Organizers said the idea came from an apparent growing need because Sequim School District saw 51 percent of its children in the free or reduced lunch programs.


Funding for the summer food program was provided by the USDA, Sound Community Bank and a private donor for treats on Fridays. The Summer Food Program reimbursed some of the expenses, too.


The Boys & Girls Club sponsored and hosted the program and Melly Green, the club’s Child Nutrition Program coordinator, prepped meals and made another 4,500 snacks and meals not counted in the program.


Budke said Green didn’t slap together sandwiches but did her best to make creative meals.


Lula Wakefield, a mother of four, said she learned of the program in mid-July and that it gave her children the opportunity to go to the park.


“It forced me to be a little more creative with my dinners,” she said.


The program seems likely to happen again, Budke said, and expand.


“They did a survey and 100 percent (of volunteers) are committed to doing it again,” Budke said.


“Next year we want to be in more locations and enrich that experience with a literacy moment and some kind of fun activity.”


To volunteer or learn more about the program, call the Sequim Boys & Girls Club at 683-8095.


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