By Kimetha Hill
Contributing Writer

On Wednesday, June 25, families from around San Diego gathered at Skyline Hills Community Park to celebrate the Summer Fun Café Kickoff 2014. The late morning/early afternoon event opened to a beautiful crowd as children flocked to San Diego marathon hero Meb Keflezighi during “A Walk with Meb.” He spoke to excited children on the importance of good health, and how to make being healthy a fun event.

A part of the summer scene in San Diego since 2003, the Summer Fun Café Skyline Hill Community Park was lined with stations featuring healthcare tips, vendors and counselors, as well as fun-filled activities and mini workout sessions the entire family could enjoy. Children took part in fruit and veggie games with prizes, impromptu workout sessions with Meb, an inflatable jumper, crafts, music, face painting and other educational activities centered on good health. The San Diego Padres Friar and Pad Squad were on the scene providing an extra boost of excitement for Kickoff goers.

After working up an appetite, children and chaperoning adults were served a free barbeque lunch by Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Boston Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi, SDUSD Superintendent Cindi Marten and California Department of Education Director of Nutrition Services Sandip Kaur.

San Diego Unified’s Summer Fun Café program serves more than 300,000 lunches each summer. With longtime partner, the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department, the program has expanded to 28 park and recreation center locations, 14 community centers and 19 San Diego Unified schools. The program provides nutrition to kids during the summer, as well as supervised play at the Park and Recreation Centers and community sites. Kids ages 18 and under can get lunch at any of the centers free — no paperwork, no pre-qualification, Monday through Friday. The lunch program began June 19.

No family left Wednesday’s event empty-handed as everyone received a bag of fruit and vegetables from the San Diego Food Bank or Feeding America San Diego. Almost 1,500 children and their parents/guardians were in attendance.

General Mills supported the cost of the adult meals at the kickoff.

The Summer Fun Café is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Seamless Summer Feeding Option. The San Diego Unified School District Food Services Department partners with the City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department, Military Child and Youth Programs, San Diego Public Library and several non-profit organizations to help fill the summer nutrition gap.

Photos by Kimetha Hill