SummerSLAM to fill hungry bellies

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For the past 10 years, Share has been feeding hungry children during the summer. When a child is no longer focused on an empty stomach, research shows improvement in academic performance and overall health.

"We are gearing up for our 11th year of the SummerSLAM program and are so grateful to our partners and sponsors who help keep this program running each year," said Diane McWithey, executive director of Share. "Our program focuses on providing fresh, healthy meals, including fruits and vegetables, so that children in our community do not face hunger during the summer months, when school doors are closed and school meals end."

This July and August, SummerSLAM will provide free meals at 11 locations throughout Clark County; more than 16,000 total meals are expected to be served.

SummerSLAM will provide free meals at six parks -- Evergreen Park, Orchards Park, Oakbrook Park, Hearthwood Park, John Ball Park and Jaggy Road Park -- through the Vancouver-Clark Parks & Recreation Summer Playground Program, a drop-in program for ages 5-11. Kids make new friends and enjoy fun activities, including games, sports, playground time and crafts. The program has an expected attendance of 80 children at each of the five-day-

a-week activities and 30 children per day at each of the other parks.

Pre-registration at the Evergreen Park and Orchards Park locations is required and can be done at http://www.cityofvancouver.us/parksrec/page/summer-playground-program-affordable-summer-fun.

Additional locations include: Orchards Elementary, Silver Star Elementary, Discovery Middle School (STEP Program), Rise & Stars Center VHA and Fort Vancouver High School (NAACP Rites of Passage Camp). A complete schedule of location sites is at http://www.sharevancouver.org. All locations are open sites and children 18 and younger are welcome to enjoy a meal even if they are not enrolled in the park program.

In June and August, families can call the Family Food Hotline 888-4-FOOD-WA to receive information about locations for free lunches for kids statewide.

All lunch sites are located at schools or facilities with a greater than 50 percent rate of free and reduced price lunch enrollment. This program is part of the Summer Food Service Program and is funded by the USDA.

Volunteers are needed to help prepare and deliver meals; volunteer opportunities can be viewed at sharevancouver.org.

To volunteer, contact Susan Oberst at 360-952-8228 or volunteers@sharevancouver.org.

Jessica Lightheart is the community relations director for Share House.