Thanks to a partnership between Food Lifeline and the Volunteers of America (VOA) Western Washington, kids and teenagers can eat lunch for free throughout the summer at the Kids Café.
The VOA is currently seeking volunteers to assist with the Kids Café summer meals program which will take place Monday through Friday from June 16 through August 29 at both Gold Bar and Sultan Elementary Schools. All kids and teenagers age 18 years and younger are welcome to attend these free daily lunches.
Lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Gold Bar Elementary, and from12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Sultan Elementary. The lunch hour will include free activities for attendees, and Sky Valley residency is not a requirement.
The food, which comes from Food Lifeline in Everett, will be picked up by VOA staff and distributed daily to the schools. The meals, which must be consumed on-site, are meant to be both nutritious and appetizing.
“They really focus heavily on healthy lunches and it’s pretty cool to see some of the kids try stuff they’ve never tried before,” said VOA East County Navigator Calei Vaughn. “Last year we had hummus.”
Vaughn explained that the kids’ reaction to hummus was definitive; they either loved it or they hated it. But they all gave it a try.
“It was really cool,” said Vaughn.
The Kids Café summer meals program, which is in its third year of operation, has not previously been offered in two locations. Vaughn stated that the locations are strategic, with program organizers hoping to make Kids Café easily accessible to the largest number of kids and teenagers. The goal is to serve as many young people as possible.
“It’s not only the low income kids,” said Vaughn. “Kids have commuting parents that aren’t around during the day in the summer; especially the ones that are too old for daycare, (and) really too young to cook meals on their own.”
The VOA is currently looking for volunteers to help run the program. They are seeking a daily site supervisor who can travel between the two Kids Café locations to oversee operations at both. They are also looking for two adult volunteers at each location on a daily basis. Volunteers can be under 18 years of age, provided they have an adult volunteering with them.
Volunteers are welcome to vary their level of commitment; the VOA is more than willing to schedule volunteers for one day per week if that’s what is most feasible for them. Vaughn stated that this is a great opportunity for Sultan High School students to begin working on their community service hours, which are a requirement for graduation.
In addition to healthy meals, there is also an emphasis on activities, both physical and educational. Long-time Sultan resident Jeremy Bell will be volunteering with the lunch program along with two of his kids.
“I am going to take a basketball and baseball gloves down, since I was introduced to baseball at a young age and it is a lifelong love,” said Bell.
Bell is also attempting to generate some interest within the Sky Valley business community in the hopes that local businesses will consider volunteering an hour to the Kids Café program at some point during the summer. Any businesses willing to give a presentation or demonstration that would be of interest to kids and teenagers are encouraged to contact the Sultan Volunteers of America.
Vaughn stated that the VOA is offering several volunteer opportunities in addition to the volunteer positions available within the summer lunch program.
“We’re always looking for people that need something current to put on their resume, or want to connect with others in their community,” said Vaughn.
Currently, the Sky Valley Senior Center is looking for a cook, the VOA is seeking front-desk administrative support and the food bank is looking for warehouse workers. For any additional information on these positions, or to sign up to volunteer with the Kids Café summer meals program, please contact the VOA at (360) 793-2400 or stop by their office which is located at 701 1st St. in Sultan.