Summer Lunch Program On Chopping Block

Anyone? … Anyone?

One cut proposed by Mayor Cary Bozeman, trying to hem up a projected $4.4 million budget deficit, is to scale back a popular summer lunch program targeted at low-income kids.

The Summer Playground Program, also called Fun at the Playgrounds and the Playground Program, includes supervised activities and lunches for kids who might otherwise not eat. If approved, the program would be reduced from five parks to three parks.

The program runs June 30 to Aug. 8, rain or shine, Monday through Friday, according to the city’s Web site. City staff supervises activities from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. each day. The games and activities are designed for kids ages 6 to 12 years old, but people up to age 19 can show up for the lunch.

The five parks in which the program operates are Haddon, Matan, and Evergreen Rotary in West Bremerton and Armin Jahr and Manette in East Bremerton

Which parks would lose the program would be decided by Parks and Recreation Director Wyn Birkenthal, said city Financial Services Director Laura Lyon.

Bremerton School District pays for the lunch, which is served at 11:30 a.m.

Councilman Mike Shepherd said he has heard from many residents of the city chiming in on what and where to cut to ensure the city’s budget balances, and above all other programs Shepherd said the summer lunch program is the most popular.

About 60 percent of the Bremerton School District’s students qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. In some cases, the only meal kids are guaranteed is the one they are served at school. Over the summer that guarantee goes away.

Hence the program to keep the kids off the streets by leading them on activities in the park and making sure they are getting the nutrition to develop physically and mentally.

The 2009 budget is now in the hands of the city council, which will look it over, possibly make changes, and approve it. Although Bozeman could technically try to undo any changes made by the council, the group of nine city legislators is considered the final say.

It’s expected to be considered by the council for final passage Dec. 3.

Bozeman has said this budget will causes pain, but it is necessary, claiming the region, state and country are in recession. Bozeman also proposed forgoing the $6,119 cost of living adjustment to which he is entitled. The budget prepared by his administration adjusts for the $4.4 million deficit mainly through cuts, including the proposal to scale back the city’s flower program, one of Bozeman’s favorites.

Wednesday night the council will meet with administration officials for the first in a series of workshops.

At a Manette community meeting Tuesday night, resident Sunny Wheeler, a daycare teacher by profession, asked if there might be a church or a community group that could step in and pick up the program should the city decide to phase it back.

“How do you decide who is not going to get it?” Wheeler asked.

3 thoughts on “Summer Lunch Program On Chopping Block

  1. The kids need the activities and lunches. Are the Boys and Girls Clubs in the area a viable alternative for the activities?

    Is it possible for one or both parents of the children to volunteer their efforts to keep the program going?

    “…t Sunny Wheeler, a daycare teacher by profession, asked if there might be a church or a community group that could step in and pick up the program…”

  2. Andrew, I am pretty sure that Naval Avenue is part of this lunch program as well.

    Sharon, thanks in part to the very generous donation from Jerry Reid, all children in the Bremerton School District can attend Boys and Girls Club, after school during the school year for an annual fee of $50. Now the summer program is more expensive because it is all day and they do really cool stuff with the kids. It is $60 per week, but I think there is assistance with that for those who need it. Several weeks during the summer they do have the lunch program going on over at the school.

  3. Thanks for the good news, Colleen. Whatever else we cut, we can’t neglect the kids.
    A huge THANK YOU to Jerry Reid and those keeping the programs running.
    And for those able to help, where would they send a check?
    Sharon O’Hara

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Before you post, please complete the prompt below.

Enter the word yellow here: