The Idaho Foodbank celebrated its Picnic in the Park program’s distribution of more than 30,000 lunches so far this summer with a mid-summer event at Winstead Park in Boise.
At the end of business Friday, July 12, the Picnic in the Park staff had given out 32,293 lunches since the program started its thirteenth year on June 3.
In addition to the 100-plus children who regularly come to Winstead Park, the celebration featured two aspects unique to this summer’s program.
The Idaho Foodbank has teamed with three students from the Health Education and Promotion Program at Boise State University to develop a physical-activities curriculum that will accompany the Picnic in the Park Program now and in the future.
Volunteers and staff have always engaged the children in activities beyond the free lunch. Now for the first time they have a consistent, repeatable, scientifically based curriculum that introduces volunteers to childhood hunger in Idaho and encourages them to promote healthy habits (like good nutrition and physical activity) in the children they serve.
- The activities include such things as hula hooping, tag and dodge ball – activities that kids can get excited about and that don’t feel like “work.”
- But the curriculum also includes a component that explains the health benefits of each activity (i.e. aerobic exercise, hand-eye coordination, etc.). This helps the volunteers discuss basic physiology with the kids so they can understand why it’s good for them to be active.
- The curriculum helps volunteers set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating and physical activity in our community’s children this year and for years to come.
- The volunteers at the event who have started to implement this program were from Boise’s Old Chicago restaurants. Both the employees and the company have become major Picnic in the Park supporters this year with both time and money.
- Boise Old Chicago restaurant teams have donated $10,000 to help fund this year’s program.
- Old Chicago corporate office will provide a $500 grant for each activity done with at least three teammates who volunteer in the name of Old Chicago. Each Old Chicago restaurant in Boise hopes to have five to 10 volunteer dates at Picnic in the Park and raise an additional $5,000.
- Some of the Old Chicago employees bring relatives to help with their volunteer efforts.
- They have adopted two Boise parks — Winstead and Elm Grove – and send two to four employees to each park every week. Employees have volunteered 27 hours thus far this summer.