B&G Clubs continue fight against summer hunger

Program offers more than 20K free lunches to children in Sequim and Port Angeles

School is out for the summer but hungry stomachs aren’t taking a vacation.

Officials with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula expect to serve about 20,000 meals to youth this summer through the Summer Food Service Program at nine sites.

Crews already started their weekday routine the day after school ended on June 16 going to parks, schools and apartments to disperse lunches.

Dave Miller, Sequim Carroll C. Kendall Club unit director, said they wanted to make sure they’re feeding students on as many days as possible.

“It gets the ball rolling and it will continue to grow as the summer goes on,” Miller said.

For more than 10 weeks, children 18 and under can receive free lunches at multiple sites through a partnership between the clubs and the USDA.

In Sequim, lunches are available from the Sequim Boys & Girls Club, 400 W. Fir St., Carrie Blake Park on Blake Avenue, Elk Creek Apartments, 90 S. Rhodefer Road, and Mountain View Court Apartments, 303 S. Fifth Ave., from noon-1 p.m. weekdays.

In Port Angeles, lunches are available at the same time at the Boys & Girls Club Port Angeles Unit, 2620 S. Francis St., Dream Park on Race Street, Jefferson Elementary School, 218 E. 12th St.,

Evergreen Court Apartments, 2203 W. 18th St., Shane Park, 1300 W. Eighth St., and the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center, 905 W. Ninth St.

From July 6-Aug. 2, Franklin Elementary School offers lunch from 11-11:30 a.m. Monday-Thursday.

Both Sequim and PA’s clubs offer free breakfast for club members from 8-9 a.m.

Program history

Volunteer Mike Flynn said last year they served 18,000 meals in the summer between Sequim and PA.

That’s a significant growth since its first summer in 2013 when club staff and volunteers served 6,322 meals between breakfast and lunches among sites at the Sequim Boys & Girls Club, Carrie Blake Park and Elk Creek Apartments.

The program started from an idea in 2012 by Jan Eadie, Leeann Grasseth and Flynn, which led faith communities and local service groups to come together, form a steering committee and eventually begin the Summer Food Service Program in summer 2013.

The clubs added PA’s free lunch program in 2014, Flynn said.

Mountain View Court Apartments was added last year and Flynn said he’d like to add at least one more site in Sequim.

Flynn said he enjoys going to the apartment complexes most because the need there seems the greatest because the children seem most isolated from accessing resources there.

“It’s more difficult for them to get to a different site,” he said.

Due to USDA guidelines, meals are only served within boundaries of schools above the 50 percent free and reduced lunch ratio, Miller said.

With Helen Haller Elementary going above, staff and volunteers only serve in Sequim at locations east of Seventh Avenue because Greywolf Elementary is slightly below the free/reduced lunch ratio (about 49.5 percent). However, any child below can receive a meal regardless of where they live in Sequim or PA.

Meals are prepared by club staff with Ryan Juel, kitchen coordinator, leading Sequim’s effort.

Janet Gray, resource development director, said the program has grown partially due to adding supper at the two clubs, but all meals are reimbursed by the USDA.

Miller said they plan for up to 45 meals per site, not counting the clubs with higher totals. The USDA requires participants must eat on site.


As demand grows, the volunteer base has retained willing recruits, Miller said.

“They love interacting with the kids,” he said. “It’s their way of giving back.”

Church volunteers largely lead the volunteer effort in Sequim while civic groups volunteer mostly in PA, Flynn said.

Each church will take a week, sometimes two, and help disperse lunches and lead games.

“It’s amazing to me how these faith communities step up,” Flynn said.

“Talk to the volunteers. Almost every person talks about how rewarding it is. They see how much of a delight it is making a significant contribution to that child’s life.”

The clubs’ efforts have been honored twice by the USDA winning the Western Region Sunshine Award.

Gray said they’ve given webinars to others leading programs on how to recruit and sustain volunteers.

Miller said the program has been an amazing success. “It truly benefits our community,” he said.

Going forward, Flynn encourages people to tell children who may need assistance about the sites.

If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Dave Miller at the club 683-8095.