Meals-wellness program 'a beautiful thing'
DANVILLE — Every morning for the next 10 weeks, you can find Arthetta Broom and her brood of young ones at Danville's Lincoln Park.
Broom's six children and those in her day care come to the park pavilion to enjoy a free breakfast through Quaker Oat's Breakfast in the Park program, while Broom enjoys seeing them eat a nutritious meal and participate in a variety of wellness activities put on by local organizations. On Thursday, it was a zumba lesson taught by the Illini Skateland staff.
"Last year, we walked down here every single day, even on the cold, rainy days," Broom said, as children danced and others dined on cereal, chewy granola bars, fruit, juice and Gatorade.
"I really think it's a beautiful thing," she said of the program. "It's helpful, and it adds to the community. I just wish we could get more kids to come."
For the second straight year, Quaker Oats, a division of PepsiCo, is providing breakfast to underserved children, ages 4 to 12.
The program, which kicked off this week, runs in the pavilion from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on weekdays through Aug. 10. It will not be held on July 3 and 4.
On Thursday, Quaker Oats plant manager Dave Kramp stopped by the pavilion to talk about the program, which the company launched it in 2011.
"As a leader in wholesome breakfasts and snacks, Quaker decided to take action to help address childhood hunger locally by offering free breakfasts to underserved youth in Danville," Kramp said.
In Danville, more than 76 percent of public schools students are eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch programs. The program was designed to provide a healthy, nutritious meal to them during the summer months when accessing meals can be challenging for their families, especially during difficult economic times.
Last year, the program served nearly 2,700 breakfasts. Officials hope to exceed that number this year.
Kramp also thanked the volunteers, many of whom are retirees, and program partners that make the program possible. This year's partners include C-U Pepsi Bottling Co., Gatorade, Tropicana, Vermilion Valley Produce, Graphic Packaging, Prairie Farms, Danville school district and many community groups.