Portland Parks & Recreation’s Free Lunch + Play Program keeps kids fed over the summer

By Regence
August 04, 2020
Portland Parks and Recreation free lunch and play program Portland Oregon

Across the nation, the economic effects of COVID-19 are continuing to drive record-high rates of food insecurity, affecting children more than anyone else. U.S census data shows that, in just four months, 1.5 million more households with children report not having enough to eat.

In Oregon, organizations like Portland Parks & Recreation are working to address food insecurity through safe summer programming and resources. The organization greatly expanded its Free Lunch + Play program, which offers no-cost meals and activities for youth each week in Portland-area park sites throughout the summer. Each of the 16 park site locations were selected in coordination with area school districts and other hunger relief programs.

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon has proudly supported Portland Parks & Recreation’s summer programming, including the expanded Free Lunch + Play program this year.

“There is a gap in the summertime – not only where there is no school in session, but the free and reduced lunches that schools serve are no longer available to our kids and families,” says Kellie Torres, Development Manager at Portland Parks & Recreation. “That’s why this program is so important.”

Portland Parks and Recreation free lunch and play program Kellie Torres

Safety guidelines, like physical distancing, are enforced and additional meals and groceries are available to families who need them, sourced and delivered by organizations like Sunshine Division and Hood to Coast.

Recently, Portland Parks & Recreation’s Kellie Torres appeared on KPTV to speak about the impact of the Free Lunch + Play program, which served over 35,000 lunches in July, alone. You can watch the full segment on KPTV’s website.


Regence is committed to supporting our members and communities during these challenging times. Learn more about what we’re doing, together with our nonprofit community partners, to address food insecurity and promote affordable housing for all.