Come and Get It! Kids Eat Free in the Summer at NELA’s Parks

2018 Editions July More News

Every weekday in the summer, more than 100 parks in the city serve free lunch to children and teens ages 1 through 18. In Northeast Los Angeles, free summer lunch will be served through Aug. 10 at the 10 rec centers shown at right.

Most of the lunches go to boys and girls participating in the day camp at each rec center, though several NELA rec centers reported that other children and teens also come by for lunch.

Now in its 43rd year, the Summer Lunch Program is a logistical feat. Each day, rec centers place 4,000 to 5,000 lunch orders with the L.A. Dept. of Parks and Recreation, which partners with the food service office of the L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) to fill the orders. The partnership is a good one, because schools in the LAUSD already prepare thousands of lunches for their own summer lunch programs and many of the schools are located near rec centers. So, the schools make enough food to cover their own needs and the needs of nearby rec centers. The schools also deliver the food to the rec centers using LAUSD temperature-controlled equipment. Hot food stays hot and cold food stays cold.

The Boulevard Sentinel polled local rec centers about the Summer Lunch Program. All were enthusiastic and said it is working well. Rick Swanson, program director at Ramona Hall Community Center, said that ordering just the right amount can be challenging, but so far, he has always had enough lunches for everyone who comes by.

Recreation Center




Cypress Park and Rec Center

2630 Pepper Ave.


12:15 p.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Eagle Rock Rec Center

1100 Eagle Vista Dr.


11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Glassell Park Rec Center and Youth Center**

3650 Verdugo Rd.


11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Highland Park Rec Center

6150 Piedmont Ave.


11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Lincoln Heights Rec Center

2303 Workman St.


11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Lincoln Heights Youth Center

2911 N. Altura St.


12 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Lincoln Park Rec Center

3501 Valley Blvd.


11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Montecito Heights Rec Center

4545 Homer St.


12:15 p.m. – 1 p.m.

Ramona Hall Community Center

4580 N. Figueroa St.


11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Yosemite Rec Center

1840 Yosemite Dr.


11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

**Due to construction in the picnic area at Glassell Park Recreation Center, lunches are served around the corner at the Youth Center, 2727 Crestmoore Pl.

There’s Free Lunch at the Library, Too

At selected branches of the Los Angeles Public Library, free lunch is served to children and teens, ages 2 to 18, every Monday through Friday until Aug. 3. Nearby participating libraries are: Lincoln Heights Branch Library (2530 Workman St. / 323-226-1692), where lunchtime is from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., and the Echo Park Branch in historic Filipinotown (1410 W. Temple St. / 213-250-7808), from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

      – Mary Lynch