Free summer programs for low-income families - 510 Families

Free summer programs for low-income families

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Summer camp doesn’t squeeze into everyone’s budget, so we were inspired to create a list of programs that welcome kids for a free lunch and some fun, structured activities they can share with a peer group.

School Age Girls
Photo by Di Lewis from Pexels

Free summer activities and lunch programs

City of Berkeley Playground Program
Ages 5-12
Kids will do arts and crafts, play games, and be supervised by trained City of Berkeley staff
Dates: June 17 – Aug 2, Monday through Friday
Cost: $5/week for Berkeley residents; $10/week for non-residents
Register at MLK/YAP at 1730 Oregon Street.
Low-income families have priority registration prior to June 1. Online registration will be available after June 1.
Locations: Malcolm X Elementary, Grove Park, and Longfellow Middle School
Call: 510.981.6674
Register >

Summer Lunch Program for Berkeley Youth
Summer food sites provide lunch (11.30 am to 1 pm) and afternoon snack (2.30 pm to 4 pm) on weekdays except for July 4 between June 17 and August 23. Recreational activities will be offered at the same sites during the meal times.
Locations: West Campus Pool, Strawberry Creek, Berkeley Skate Park, James Kenney Community Center, Longfellow Middle School
Call: 510.981.6671 for more info

Alameda Parks and Playground Program
FREE drop-in activities for children in kindergarten through 5th grades. Activities include arts and crafts, cooking, drama, games, nature and special events. A nominal fee may be charged to directly cover activity supply costs. Weekly activity calendars are available upon request. Parks & Playgrounds Program is not a childcare service. Parents: leave your child alone at the park at your own risk.
Jun 12 – Aug 9 Closed July 4th M – F 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Locations: Bayport, Franklin, Lincoln, Tillman, and Washington Parks


Free summer lunch for students in Oakland
Hosted at Oakland Public Library sites in partnership with the City of Oakland, lunch will be served for one hour on weekdays at noon or 12.30 (see below) from June 10 to August 2, 2019 for kids 18 and under.
Library branches participating:

1021 81st Avenue
Monday – Friday, 12-1pm

3301 E. 12th St.
Monday – Friday, 12:30-1:30pm

7200 Bancroft Ave, Suite 211 (in the Eastmont Town Center)
Monday – Friday, 12-1pm

1427 88th Avenue
Monday – Friday, 12-1pm


125 14th Street, TeenZone (2nd Floor) and Children’s Room (Basement)
Monday – Friday, 12:30-1:30pm

6833 International Blvd.
Monday – Friday, 12-1pm

4805 Foothill Blvd.
Monday – Friday, 12-1pm

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2 thoughts on “Free summer programs for low-income families”

  1. Important to note that free summer lunch is not just for low-income students or families. It is provided to all people 18 & under at most listed sites, with no proof of residency or income status required. For example, a teen babysitter could take a couple kids, and they can all get lunch. Undocumented children and teens can also get lunch, and students from other districts.

    We have visited the Berkeley Summer Lunch a couple times over the years, but most frequently gone to the WCCUSD sites (not yet announced for 2019, and not covered in this post). I have learned you have to show up early in the stated window, and most programs require the children to eat on site (so they know the food is going to youth) and no adults eating/sharing. Definitely some site supervisors are more strict than others about eating there. Some WCCUSD sites also offer breakfast, under the same terms. The library sites in the Contra Costa system tend to have very skimpy lunches (because of lack of space, I think), while the cafeteria sites tend to provide much more. I have also been to a site out of town and they provided a combo breakfast/lunch… you never know what you’re going to get, so keep your expectations low and give it a try. It’s worth checking out if the schedule works for your family.

  2. AACE summer camp by Peralta Hacienda in Oakland is also free. So is the National Society of Black Engineers’ SEED camp in Oakland.

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