LA County parks kick off summer lunch program

Cade Moore, 9, of Los Angeles, enjoys his free lunch at Ladera Park, in L.A.
Cade Moore, 9, of Los Angeles, enjoys his free lunch at Ladera Park, in L.A.
Corey Moore/KPCC

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Children in Los Angeles County will be able to grab a free lunch while they play at dozens of county parks. The L.A. County Department of Recreation and Parks just began its annual summer lunch program. At Ladera Park in Los Angeles, about 50 kids tested and approved the menu.

“It was awesome… the flavor was yummy,” some shouted.

Unlike some adults, these kids are far from shy at the sight of a reporter’s microphone. Seven year-old Kalise Brooks of Los Angeles held nothing back.

“My lunch was very good. I had crackers and I had a sandwich," boasted Kalise. "I had a lot of good things... I had a ham sandwich with mayo.”

Ten-year-old Mya Tyson seconded that review.

“I think it’s good and healthy because they also put some nutritious stuff… that children enjoy to eat a lot of the times.”

That “nutritious stuff” includes carrots, fruit, sunflower seeds and milk. The Department of Recreation and Parks will serve free meals to children and teens at Ladera Park and 59 other sites throughout the county. Cammie Wilson is one of the managers.

“Every day is a different lunch. A different snack, " said Wilson. "So it’s brought in fresh. We keep it on ice and you can see the kids enjoy it. We average anywhere between 50 and 100 kids that we service at Ladera Park.”

Kids will also get complimentary afternoon snacks. The Recreation and Parks department expects to serve about 220,000 lunches this summer. That could offer a welcome break for parents who depended on free summer school meals in districts that canceled classes because of budget cuts. It’s also good news for kids who appreciate the benefits of a balanced meal.