COLUMBUS, May 31, 2024:  Summer is not all fun and games for some children and youth. During the school year, many children receive free breakfast and lunch. However, during the summer months, these same children struggle to access basic needs such as healthy meals, a safe place to hang out with friends and opportunities to continue learning.

Since 1970, Columbus Recreation and Parks has fed children’s minds with free meals through Go, Lunch!, its summer food program. In 2023, the department served 246,068 meals.

Meals are served to anyone between the ages of 1-18. Meals are also available for anyone ages 18-21 who has been determined by a state or local public educational agency to be mentally or physically disabled and involved in an independent education program. Families can visit to learn more about the program and find a location near them.

Families in need can call 866-3-HUNGRY (Español: 877-8-HAMBRE) or text 914-342-7744 with a question that contains a keyword such as “food,” “summer,” “meals,” etc. and receive a text back that will show free meal sites closest to them.

Columbus Recreation and Parks will host the Go, Lunch! season kick-off on Thursday, June 13 at Glenwood Pool starting at 12:30 p.m. More information will be shared closer to the event.

To learn more about Go, Lunch! and Columbus Recreation and Parks’ efforts, visit

Food Insecurity in Columbus, Central Ohio

Household food insecurity remains a pervasive problem, according to Feeding America’s Map The Meal Gap survey.

  • In 2022, 1.65 million Ohioans, or 14.1 percent, were food insecure. 64 percent were above the SNAP threshold.
  • In Franklin County, 177,730 residents, or 13.5 percent, were food insecure. 53 percent were above the SANP threshold.
  • The issue impacts children more, and 68,480 Franklin County children, or 22.5 percent, were food insecure.