Blog from Kalispell: Kids Eat For Free Here

By: Jessica Ferretti

Woodland Park was all the rage on Friday the 17. It was the Summer Food Service Program Kick-off Event! Upon arrival at the site, people were greeted by a friendly orange, balloons, activity tables, lawn games, picnic blankets, and free food for the whole family. It was a perfect day to have lunch in the park.

As the families started getting in line, there were kiddos and adults alike, gazing over all the food available to them. The menu for the day was a local polish sausage on a tasty wheat bun, juicy watermelon, baked beans, Asian salad, potato salad, fresh snap peas and radishes from the Central Kitchen garden, chocolate chip cookies, and a choice of refreshing plain or chocolate milk. What a spread!

Everything seemed to be naturally calming down as families found cozy spots to eat on the lawn, when a noise was coming from the summer day camp on the other side of the concession stands. “Monte! Monte! Monte!” Was it true? Could it really be Monte, the University of Montana’s wild and acrobatic mascot, here at Woodland Park?! A few moments later, a bear was spotted, creeping around corners and hiding behind trees, entering the area where all the families had settled to enjoy lunch. Nobody was scared though, he’s not one to steal food from kids. He just wanted to play and dance with everyone.

After the excitement of the lunch, it slowly started to empty out. It was so great hearing such wonderful feedback about the SFSP program, the food served, and the ability for families to have a place that their kids can eat healthful food for free all summer. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves immensely. It wasn’t until the final activity was taken down, the Positive Comment board, that things really hit home. “I Love The Summer Food Service Program Because… because it means my kids can eat a nutritious lunch even when we have to come to town for appointments.” The SFSP provides an option for families even when they don’t live in the area. It is a way to add good food and activity into a day that might otherwise be spent in stores and offices. That comment made the whole event worthwhile.