Hundreds of children served nutritious lunch at Bingham Park

HAWLEY - Friday, August 9 marked the final day for Kids’ Free Picnic, which served hundreds of children this summer at the bandstand in Bingham Park. Brenda Zeiler, Food Services Director at Wallenpaupack Area School District, said it was “very successful” and expressed confidence they would be back next summer.
“Mm-m!,” said Benjamin Kent, as he happily ate a ham and cheese sandwich on a pretzel roll. He was asked how he liked it. Ben was there for his second time with his grandma Sandy Kent, of Narrowsburg.
“It’s wonderful,” Sandy said. “I couldn’t believe they were doing this.” She said she likes to come down this way to shop and they frequently come to the park.
Johanna Russo was there with her grandkids Gary and Sebastian Christman. Visiting from outside the area, she said they had just found about the free lunch for children. She wondered if other schools in the area also do this.
“They love it,” Catherine Perau of Honesdale said. She and her grandchildren Cassandra, Christan (who they call P.J.) and Ariana Wrightman- who was in a stroller, have been coming regular for the past two weeks.
The school district started the program on June 24 and ran it Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Zeiler said that only once did they move it to the Borough Hall, and that was because of excessively warm weather. She said she just lives the spot in the park, which offers the bandstand, picnic tables in the shade, restrooms and the playground.
They learned as they went and got it down to a science. She said a lot of grandparents brought their grandchildren, and they have had mostly preschool and elementary age kids. A few teens came. It was open to anyone 18 years and younger.
They fed as many as 134 children in one day.
The whole idea is to help ensure children are getting a nutritious meal during the summer, and hopefully are reaching children in needy circumstances. Zeiler expressed the feeling they were doing just that. People have been very appreciative, she indicated.
Vacation Bible School children came over, as did kids in the summer reading program at Hawley Public Library. St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church brought crafts, and there was a sandbox activity.
They had a wide variety on the menu. For the final day they were serving chicken salad on greens, yogurt parfait, ham and cheese on a roll, turkey and cheese wrap, Italian hoagie, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Dorito chips, frozen juice and milk. Some other items that have served were pizza, breaded chicken drumsticks, macaroni & cheese and pasta with meatballs.