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Summer Food Program

The free summer lunch program starts Monday, including meals at Elver Park.

Who said there's no free lunch?

Kids and accompanying adults will be able to disprove that starting Monday, when the annual free summer food program begins at 50 sites throughout Madison.

The program is a joint venture by the city, the Madison School District, Madison Parks, Centro Hispano, the REAP Food Group and Public Health Madison and Dane County.

The free summer lunch kicks off with a special event at 12:30 p.m. at Aldo Leopold Park, 2906 Traceway Drive, on the city's South Side, with speeches, the water wagon, the bookmobile, music and even a mock election being held.

The program is funded by the USDA essentially to ensure low-income children have meals during the summer when school is not in session.

"The USDA Summer Food Service Program is extremely important for lowering barriers to food access for children during the summer months," said Mayor Paul Soglin.

"The city is committed to sponsoring this program and provide funding to expand the provision of free summer meals, not just to children 18 and younger but also to adults who accompany them and who may be experiencing food access and insecurity issues."

There are four main sites where summer lunches will be served, at Leopold, Elver Park on the Southwest Side, Southdale Park on the South Side, and Centro Hispano, also on the South Side.

Lunchtime is Monday through Friday at each site. Lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Elver Park, 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Southdale Park, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Centro Hispano and 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. at Leopold Park.

The program runs from Monday through Aug. 10.

Dozens of other sites in the Madison area will serve free breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks this summer, where all youth 18 or under eat for free.

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Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.