WESTBROOK — The summer lunch van will be making the rounds again next week with books on board.

The summer lunch program, a federally funded initiative, provides free breakfasts and lunches to Westbrook students under the age of 19 who qualify  for free or reduced school.

The lunch program and Walker Memorial Library have shared a van for four years, although they used it separately. There wasn’t a volunteer available last summer for the “bookmobile,” so this year, School Nutrition Director Mary Emerson was inspired to combine the two services.

“Before we used to do our food rounds and then the libraries would bring the books later,” Emerson said. “I thought it would be good to combine, so a student going for their lunch can get a book too, or vice versa.”

“It’s a great combination, students are able to get their food, but also be exposed to a number of great books through the summer,” Superintendent Peter Lancia said.

The van is equipped with coolers and space to keep food safe, while the middle of the van has a dedicated spot for books.

The books are passed out on an honors system to students. While the Walker Memorial Library donates and curates the selection of books, there is less of a restrictive loan time, and the workers are not pressed to collect the books or any fees.

Book borrowing is also open to the families of the students receiving the meals.

The program kicks off 10 a.m. on Monday, June 24, with a party at Walker Field, open to the public.

“It will be loads of fun, and of course with free food,” Emerson said.

The event will have family friendly games, face-painting, and a chance for children to get up close and personal with some of the fire department and police departments vehicles and equipment.

The program then continues through Aug. 16.

Starting June 24, the lunch and book van will go to the Westbrook Pointe Community Room Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 11:20 a.m., Walker Field from 11:40 a.m. to noon, the Cornelia Warren Outdoor Pool from 12:10 p.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Riverbank Park on Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m.

Lunch also will be served at Canal Elementary School, Monday through Thursday from 11:40 a.m. to 12:10 a.m.; the Westbrook Community Center, Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to noon; and the library Children’s Room, Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to noon.

For more information on the summer lunch program, call Emerson at 591-6054.

If you are interested in donating books, contact the Westbrook Public Library.

Chance Viles can be reached at 780-9092 or [email protected]. Follow Chance on Twitter: @chanceviles.


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