Summer is a fun time for kids, but it’s when children are at the greatest risk of food insecurity. Abington’s Summer Youth Meal Program kicked-off on June 18th at Cresmont Club House at Cresmont Park, located at 2500 Old Welsh Rd, Willow Grove.
The meal program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and provides snacks and lunch for kids ages 1 to 18 weekdays, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. from June 18 to August 17, except on rainy days and July 4.
Children enrolled in the school meal program, may go without those two meals a day, according to the USDA. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is funded by the USDA. Last year, Pennsylvania children received more than five million meals from approximately 2,600 food program sites, with $14 million in USDA support.
Approximately 400,000 children in Philabundance’s nine county service-area face hungry this summer. Philabundance is region’s largest huger relief organization providing food in five counties in Pennsylvania and four in New Jersey.
“The Summer Food Service Program not only provides young students with a reliable and nutritious meal but will also improve at-risk students’ overall health and well-being,” said Pedro A. Rivera, Pennsylvania’s Education Secretary
Many students who receive free or reduced cost meals during the school year through the School Breakfast and National School Lunch programs lack access to healthy and nutritious food during the summer months and are at risk of hunger. Limited access to nutritious food during the summer can have an impact on learning all year long and can make students more susceptible to illness and other health issues.
Additionally, in 2016, as part of Governor Wolf’s food security plan, Setting the Table: A Blueprint for a Hunger-free PA, the Administration set a goal of ensuring that 60 percent of students who benefit from free and reduced priced school meals also participate in school breakfast by 2020.
To combat food insecurity, the Administration recently awarded $900,000 in grants for more than 200 schools across the commonwealth to implement or expand alternative breakfast programs, and to make breakfast available all students. Currently, over 3,000 Pennsylvania schools report that they offer breakfast, but fewer than half of those schools offer alternative serving methods.
There are several ways to locate a participating summer meal site:
- Call the “211” phone number for the National call center.
- Call “1.866.3Hungry” or “1.877.8Hambre” to find the place and time of free meals.
- Log onto the USDA website for locations and times where free meals are to be served.
- Text “FOOD” to “877877” to find out the nearest SFSP site near your location.
- Log onto rangeapp.org, an app used to locate places and times where free meals are served