A panoramic view of the interior of the Children's Museum of Sonoma County featuring children and parents playing with interactive exhibits.

CMOSC Partners to Provide Free Summer Exhibition and Lunch Program

Gutierrez spoke with Solina Larum of the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County to discuss the initiative.

A recent partnership with the county libraries, the food bank and the Sonoma County Children’s Museum will add a new lunch location site at Coddingtown Mall, when a traveling exhibit makes its way to Santa Rosa.

Starting on June 12, “Potter the Otter: A Healthy Adventure,” will fill the storefront where Hallmark store once stood.

Created by the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, the exhibit is geared to educate children five years old and younger on the importance of healthy eating, drinking water and staying active.

The Sonoma County Children’s Museum has had its eye on bringing the exhibit to Santa Rosa, said Director of Operations Solina Larum, but there wasn’t enough space in their museum to house the exhibit.

The museum then reached out to Coddingtown Mall to see if they could house the exhibit as a pop-up in any empty storefronts. The mall agreed, and said the museum would only have to pay the utilities.

Next, Larum met with community partners to find ways to offer the exhibit at a low cost to Sonoma County families.

Conveniently, Sonoma County Libraries secured a state grant earlier this year that could front $50,000 to fund the utility costs and other programming needs.

The grant would also allow the exhibit to be free if the two organizations found a way to offer free lunches, replacing an existing donation site at the Northwest Santa Rosa Library that was closing due to low attendance.

“(The library) realized that it was really not ideal for serving food for families,” Larum said. “They were under the impression that they were not going to be able to serve families in that area and it would become a bit of a food desert.”

And all at once, the three partners realized they could move the free lunch donation site into the mall, supported by the state grant funding.

“It really was serendipitous,” Larum said.

The exhibit will open to the public on June 12 and will remain until Aug. 9, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., free to the public.

“I’m hoping this will be a huge success and that we will be able to feed many families and educate them too,” Larum said. “It’s really a win, win, win for everybody involved.”

On behalf of all of us at the Children’s Museum, we are honored to be featured alongside so many amazing Santa Rosa organization! We are proud to be part of this vibrant community and thank you, Press Democrat and Adriana Gutierrez for highlighting this amazing partnership.


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