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Free meals program going strong in Darby
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Free meals program going strong in Darby

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The United States Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program is going strong in Darby this summer.

School Food Service Director Dave Thomas had large coolers of sack lunches free for anyone 18 and under, or for purchase by adults, at the Darby City Park on Tuesday.

The program provides free meals to all kids age 18 and under. This is Thomas’s sixth year to participate in what he calls a “great tradition.”

He’ll be in the park from 10 a.m. to noon, every weekday through Aug. 13.

Sandwich options on Tuesday, July 6, included peanut butter and jelly or ham and cheese, plus milk, veggies, fruit, chocolate and white milk, ranch dressing and chips.

Rauley Jankunas, age 4, was excited to have a few carrots with his ranch dressing while his brother Ryal, age 2, dove into the chips.

Their mom, Halie Jankunas, said the park picnic has become a tradition.

“We come for the [Darby Community Public] library activities on Tuesdays,” Halie Jankunas said. “We do the lunch and then play in the park, it is a good thing to have to do.”

School Board member Rosemary Griffin stopped by to hear about the success of the summer free foods program.

“Well, now that summer school is over it is going to slow down a little bit,” Thomas told her. “But since we’re doing it in the park every day I think it will pick up.”

Thomas has been serving free lunch at the school since the end of the school year and mostly summer school students participated. But now he’s moved the program to the city park.

“We did have a few community kids come to the school for lunch, just walk-ins,” Thomas said. “I love serving lunch in the park because it is where the action is. Especially when you get people from other places stopping by and they don’t have these programs.”

Anyone age 18 or under can receive free food. Adults may purchase a lunch at $4.25. Find the nearest location by texting ‘Food’ to 877-877 or visit

“They don’t have to live here,” Thomas said.


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