The City of Riverside’s summer food program is back and offering free meals to children and youth ages 18 and under through August 5. Meals are served on a first-come, first-served basis at 10 city parks at either 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. or 12:00 noon to 1:30 p.m., depending on location. Find a complete listing of sites and schedules here. However, unlike the last two years in which Covid restrictions made it necessary for families to pick up meals to be eaten at home, this summer, food will need to be eaten on-site. Younger children should be able to pick up food on their own, and use a spoon to feed themselves, explained Jessica Ochoa, recreation supervisor with the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, though staff will be on hand to assist if needed.
Ochoa said the meals, which are prepared by Riverside Unified School District Nutrition Services, do include healthy options, but the emphasis is on kids’ favorites. “It’s summer food. We’re having pizza days, sandwich days, barbecue, hot dogs. We want this to be a fun day in the park for everyone.” Vegetarian meals are available, but require 24 hours advance notice to site staff.
In addition, Ochoa said the meals are open to all families with children under the age of 18 regardless of income. “We want to involve our whole demographic. It’s about serving the community.”
The program is funded by a grant from the California Department of Education Nutrition Services.