How 135 children got a free lunch in Merrill - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

How 135 children got a free lunch in Merrill

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MERRILL (WAOW) -- Three churches in Merrill are helping families this summer by offering free picnic lunches to area children at a city park.

Christ United Methodist Church began the program a year ago and is providing the free lunches on Wednesdays this summer.

"This is a way to help families out and help kids that maybe are not receiving a healthy lunch," said co-organizer Becky Yorde.

Trinity Lutheran Church and Saint Stephens United Church of Christ joined the lunch program this summer, offering meals on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The goal is to provide healthy and nutritious food for children and teens.

"We always have at least three to four different sorts of fruits here," said Yorde.

Children are encouraged to take as much food as they want and play on the playground nearby.

The Merrill Fire Department helped serve Wednesday's lunches. The children also received some brochures about fire safety, including smoke detectors and exit plans for homes.

"We want to give them the opportunity to look at the fire engines and the ambulances and not be afraid of that stuff and know that we are here to help," said Merrill Fire Chief Dave Savone.

Children laughed and smiled as they climbed onto the fire trucks.

"Kids are going to be healthier and safer because of this program," said Savone.

The volunteers say they serve free meals but the children give something back.

"We get big smiles," said Yorde.

Wednesday the group served more than 130 children during two hours of free lunches.

The program runs throughout the summer.

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