The fun-making emcees were a tag team of Michael Rosenberger, IISD Director of Food & Nutrition Services and Joseph Moses, Community Programs Supervisor for the City of Irving Parks and Recreation Department.
“We want to be your one-stop shop for good health,” said Rosenberger as Cowboys mascot ‘Rowdy’ exchanged high-fives with enthusiastic children.
Angela Olige of the Texas Department of Agriculture explained that Texas serves 250,000 meals per day to students during the summer as part of 2.3 million meals served daily year-round. And showing her spirit, she led the kids in cheers and jumping jacks.
The ‘Nano Ninjas’ were introduced, tiny, intense kicking machines, aged four – six, and a few students got a chance to break boards as part of their Tai Kwon Do demonstration.
Dignitaries Bill Ludwig of the USDA, State Representative Linda Harper Brown, City Manager Tommy Gonzalez and Irving Mayor Pro Tem Gerald Farris also joshed with the youngsters while Irving ISD Superintendent Dr. Bedden told them, “When I look at you young people, I see me. You help us understand what’s right for kids.”
The festivities ended with a lineup of dignitaries serving up healthful meals to the young people: a teriyaki stir fly bowl on whole grain rice with fresh apple slices.
Rosenberger coached his helpers on their duties, explaining that seven recreation centers would be involved this summer.
“Next year we want to work to be at the churches, the YMCA and some of the smaller parks that weren’t involved this year,” Rosenberger said. “We cook fresh daily, breakfast and lunch. Every rec center has their own schedule for what time to serve meals – whatever works best for their programs.
“USDA suggested this event. They wanted to partner with us when they learned that the schools and the City were already cooperating.
“This shows what can be done when we all put children first. We’re helping our children, whether they’re the school students or the kids at the rec centers.
“We also reach out to kids who might be visiting in this area. If they come to the rec program, they’ll get a meal, because it’s paid for by USDA, so it’s a federal program.
“We’re trying to get the word out. Just because kids are on vacation, that doesn’t mean that hunger is on vacation,” he said.