ENID, Okla. — As soon as the Lunch Bunch’s van pulls up to Mercy House and honks its horn every day, children come running with books in hand.
The Lunch Bunch — a partnership between Public Library of Enid and Garfield County, Loaves & Fishes, Enid Parks Department and Enid Public Transit — provides free lunches to children to age 18 every day during the summer through Aug. 9, except on Independence Day, said Karen Boardman, library children’s programs director. They provide a mobile library when dropping off lunch from 10:45-11:45 a.m. at Mercy House for literature and lunch, and also hold lunch and programs noon to 2 p.m. at Champion Park gym, 10th and Chestnut, with transportation available upon request.
The Lunch Bunch program started last year as a way to provide lunch during the lull of the summer when Enid Public Schools does not provide lunch in July, Boardman said.
“We serve in July and August so the kids will have an opportunity to have a meal,” Boardman said. “We were successful last year so this year we decided to do it again and add another site.”
The transportation option is a new partnership with the program. Children or their parents can request transportation to Champion Park Gym by calling (580) 233-7433 so they can attend the lunch and activities. Boardman said the transportation already has been a success, even though it is only the first week of the program.
“At Mercy House we do just meals and we have a mobile library,” Boardman said. “(At Champion Park gym) we have programs every single day, we serve lunch from 12-12:45 and we do some type of program from 12:45-1:15, and at 1:15 the Parks Department does some type of physical activity with them, and then we serve a snack.”
The program already has a schedule of planned activities throughout the end of the summer, including drum lessons, haircuts and a visit from Enid SPCA.
“We really wanted to build relationships with kids, and our ultimate goal is to get those kids into a library so they’ll become lifelong readers,” Boardman said. “Just to kind of give kids an opportunity in the summer if they need a meal or if they just need relationships, or to give them an opportunity to participate in some programs they might not otherwise have a chance to participate in.”