Home / Announcements / Annual “Play in the Park” and Summer Food Program kicks off! FREE, healthy lunch and activities for New Bedford youth all summer

Annual “Play in the Park” and Summer Food Program kicks off! FREE, healthy lunch and activities for New Bedford youth all summer

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The New Bedford Parks, Recreation & Beaches Department will continue its annual tradition of the Play in the Park and Summer Food Service programs to offer fun activities and healthy meals for kids ages 18 and under at parks and playgrounds across the city free of charge.

“We are really excited to offer this program again to New Bedford residents in parks across the city!” began Director Mary S Rapoza “We’ll have free food for anyone 18 and under, plus lots of fun activities going on each day such as different sports, games, and arts & crafts projects.


New Bedford Parks, Recreation & Beaches Department photo.

“We’ve been holding the Play in the Park Summer Food Program every year since the 1960s.” added Rapoza. “Many of the summer food program staff used to show up at the parks for lunch when they were younger and now serve as positive mentors for the kids in their neighborhoods. Many of the parents and grandparents who bring their kids to participate in the program tell us all the time they used to eat lunch in the summer food program or it was their first job. Each year we see generations of families coming out and enjoying the program year after year.”

The program will run June 24 through Aug. 27, 2021. From 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Monday through Friday, lunch and activities will be provided at nine different park locations throughout the city. Grab-and-go lunches will be served Monday through Friday at the Nashmont Eddie James Park and Phillips Ave Park. From 4:00 PM-7:00 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays, dinner and activities will be provided at Montes Park and Magnett Park.

Each site will be staffed by local youth to hand out nutritious lunches and host recreational, arts and crafts, and educational activities for children. Two kick-off events will take place on June 24 at Magnett Park from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM. and June 25 at Riverside Park from 11:00 AM. to 2:00 PM.


New Bedford Parks, Recreation & Beaches Department photo.

Both events will include special family activities including lawn games, inflatables, live music, and more.

“Last year our program looked a little different as we adapted to COVID-19, but we ensured the program would still be available for families all summer long. We served over 90,000 meals which is similar to the number of meals we typically serve throughout the summer.

Following local and state regulations, this summer food program will look a lot more like the normal program we run but we will continue to follow health guidelines and work to build a fun, safe, and healthy summer program for the community.”

The summer programs are federally funded through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Community Development Block Grant with support from Project Bread. The Department of Parks, Recreation & Beaches will partner with community organizations to bring a variety of activities to each site. There will be three rainy day sites open throughout the city to ensure access to meals throughout the summer. A complete list of sites can be found here.

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

For more information and updates on all New Bedford Parks, Recreation & Beaches programs visit NBPRB.com, follow on Facebook @NBParksRecreationBeaches, or contact by phone at (508) 961-3015.


New Bedford Parks, Recreation & Beaches Department photo.

About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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