City of Des Moines Parks Earns Grant to Fight Hunger in Children this Summer

Des Moines Parks, Recreation & Senior Services, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), received a $30,000 grant to support its summer food service program in partnership with the Des Moines Area Food Bank.

The money comes from a $1.5 million grant received by NRPA from the Walmart Foundation to support summer feeding programs in 28 park and recreation agencies across the U.S.

“Helping children and families in our local community is a key objective of the Des Moines Recreation Department,” said Patrice Thorell, director of Parks, Recreation & Senior Services. “We are thrilled to be a part of NRPA’s national effort to combat hunger, particularly in these troubled economic times, and are pleased that Walmart has lent their support to Des Moines. Through Walmart’s generosity, 500 of our area children will have better, more nutritious summers.”

Support for the feeding program is part of Walmart’s Summer Giving Campaign – a $20 million initiative aimed at filling the gaps created when schools close for the summer. The initiative will help expand nutrition, learning and employment services to children throughout the summer months.

While many children look forward to the summer break, recent research shows that health may decline in children during the summer due to lower levels of physical activity and lack of access to healthy meals.

Only one in seven of the low-income students who depended on the National School Lunch Program during the regular 2010-2011 school year received summer meals in July 2011 according to a report released by the Food Research and Action Center in June 2012.

“Park and recreation agencies are on the frontline in the fight to reduce hunger especially among children,” said Barbara Tulipane, president and CEO of NRPA. “The generous gift from the Walmart Foundation will help our local champions provide nutritious meals for millions of children and support the development of a healthy, connected and active generation of Americans.”

For the third year, NRPA has awarded grants to park and recreation agencies for feeding programs that have served more than 16 million meals to low-income children, an increase of 3.7 million meals over 2009 figures.

The Des Moines Parks & Recreation Department will be partnering with the Des Moines Area Food Bank to serve local children. “Two out of three students in our local elementary schools qualify for the federal free and reduced meal program and 1 in 5 children in South King County live in families that ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ run out of food,” stated Kris Van Gasken, Executive Director of the food bank, who added:

“We are so excited to partner with the Parks Department because we can bring together both our agency’s expertise to benefit children in our community. The food bank can bring nutritious food to the table and the Parks Department will provide activities that low-income families often cannot access. This is important not only for children’s health but for their educational success as well.”

The Des Moines Parks, Recreation and Sr. Services provide exciting activities for Des Moines residents of all ages. The Department strives to provide high quality enrichment and athletic programs and we are very excited to work with the Des Moines Food Bank. We will be providing athletic games, arts & crafts, nutrition education and many other wonderful opportunities.

The Recreation Department and food bank will provide meals and activities at the following Des Moines locations this summer:

  • Parkside Elementary School (2104 S. 247th St, Des Moines)
 June 18-August 29 (except July 4), Monday thru Friday 
Snacks 10:30-10:45; Activities 10:30-12:30
; Lunch 12:30-1:00 (Activities provided by Des Moines Parks and Rec.).
  • Midway Park (S. 221st St & 29th Ave S., Des Moines)
 June 18-August 29 (except July 4), Monday thru Friday
 Lunch 12:30-1:00 Activities 1:00-3:00
; Snacks 2:45-3:00 (Activities provided by Des Moines Parks & Rec.).
  • Des Moines Field House Park (1000 S. 220th St, Des Moines) 
June 18-August 29 (except July 4), Monday thru Friday
 Lunch 11:30-12:00; Snacks 2:30-2:45.
  • Des Moines Marina (22307 Dock Ave S, Des Moines) By the Des Moines Farmers Market 
June 16-August 29, Saturdays 
Snack 10:00-10:30; Activity Booth 10:00-2:00; 
Lunch 12:00-1:00.
  • Des Moines Beach Park (22030 Cliff Ave S, Des Moines) 
July 11-August 15, Wednesdays
 Supper 6:00-7:00.

For more information on the Des Moines Parks, Recreation and Sr. Services, visit us at or contact the department at 206-870-6527.

For more information on summer meal services provided by the Des Moines Area Food Bank, visit

For more information on NRPA’s summer feeding support, visit or contact Jimmy O’Connor, senior manager of corporate grants, at [email protected].

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