YMCA program offers free summer lunches to eligible kids in 3 counties

Henrietta Strickland
June 24, 2017

Over 10,000 children in Ulster County worry in the summer where they are going to get a good meal.

"These are people they know and they trust", said McPhee, director of child nutrition for the Meridian Public School District. "So, we find offering the Bag Summer Hunger program alleviates some of the worry on both the children and the parents".

"Eating a nutritious breakfast and lunch is essential to a child's development, and the Summer Meals program helps ensure students return to school in September focused and ready to learn", said City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina.

A total of five pop-up pantries on Fridays throughout the summer are offering families a way to eat healthy meals on the weekends.

The Bag Summer Hunger program is funding predominantly with a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of the Hudson Valley.

Summer Meals is part of the Summer Food Service Program, which is a federally funded and state-administered program that operates when schools are closed for at least 15 continuous school days or when year-round schools are off track.

"Breakfast at this site is an hour and a half, and it's an hour for lunch, so if they are here the whole time, that's two and a half hours a day they're somewhere safe, and they're getting fed", said Jamie Swan of Strafford County Community Action Partnership. The Boys & Girls Club partnered with Vista Unified School District to hold the celebration. The school district works with the Mississippi Department of Education to sponsor the program locally.

Many summer meal sites struggle to cover added costs such as transportation, site supervision and enrichment programming. When the school district first began three sites served summer lunches. Breakfasts have climbed to a daily average of 1,026 so far this year, up from 875 last summer.

Several area organizations make use of the meals program, with staff members bringing children to meal sites in the midst of activities. Children do not have to eat lunch at the same location each day.

There are more than 57,000 children struggling with food insecurity in South Jersey today.

"We do exercise, and we talk about fruits and vegetable", Elkins said.

"We're really grateful, especially for big organizations like the Boys & Girls Club who come out and support (the program)", she said. "We are predicting to do approximately 50,000 meals this summer".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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