After qualifying for a partnership with the Houston Food Bank, the city of Tomball is broadening its Kids Club program. Kids Club is a six-week summer program held July 9 to Aug. 17 that provides free meals and activities to children age 17 and younger.

Starting this summer, Houston Food Bank will provide breakfast and a hot lunch for Kids Club attendees twice a week, doubling the capacity of the program’s free meal initiative. Since the summer program is donation-based and uses no city funds, the collaboration relieves donation pressure from local supporters, Tomball Marketing Assistant Larrissa Roberts said.

“In the past we were slightly at the mercy of our donating restaurants,” she said. “But this year we are able to call Houston Food Bank and have them increase their food support for the following session [if needed].”

By working with Houston Food Bank to supply additional meals, Kids Club is able to extend the age restriction—previously set to age 12 and younger—and accept more children. Although there are no income or residency requirements to attend, children must be accompanied by an adult.

In 2011, Mayor Gretchen Fagan launched Kids Club to create a safe space by offering free lunch as well as educational and physical activities to children in the summer, she said.

“I am very excited with the direction of the program and believe it fits with our initial plans for kids in our community,” Fagan said. “There are always ways to grow and improve. All it takes are dedicated people with a vision.”

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, attendees will enjoy free meals as well as activities at the Tomball Community Center, Community Events Coordinator Denise Neef-Fiore said.

In previous years the program featured lessons in martial arts, personal hygiene with dentists and safety training with firefighters and police officers. Other activity hosts, such as churches, businesses and nonprofits, provided games, and arts and crafts.

On Fridays, Kids Club will host a food pantry at the Lone Star College-Tomball Community Library. Each child can pick up one bag of food designed to feed a family of four, Neef-Fiore said. Similar to past summers, local restaurants and businesses can donate to the pantry as well.

Roberts said she anticipates attendance will increase from the 100-150 children per day in previous years.

“We are filling a void that wouldn’t necessarily be filled without us,” she said. “There [are] not any free educational programs in the Tomball area that also provide food [in the summer].”