BRONX, NEW YORK, July 16- Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott, joined by federal and city agencies and non-profit organizations, encouraged families to take advantage of free breakfast and lunch for their youngsters as part of the annual summer meals program that runs through August 31.
Summer meals are provided in more than 1,000 locations, including pools, parks, public housing sites and soup kitchens throughout the five boroughs. In addition to these locations, the Department of Education (DOE) is operating mobile refrigerated trucks that provide meals to children at Orchard Beach in the Bronx and at Flushing Meadows Park. There are currently two trucks and the DOE is adding a third one to serve meals to youngsters at Queens Farm Park, starting Monday, July 23.
Last year, more than 7 million meals were served during the summer, including 67,000 meals served by the trucks, which is more meals than some states served for their entire summer program. To help promote summer meals, Share Our Strength, a national non-profit that focuses on eliminating childhood hunger, is providing text messaging capabilities and has produced postcards and flyers that are being distributed throughout the City through food advocates, community-based organizations City agencies and the DOE to alert families of the summer meals program.
“We want all families with children, no matter their residency, to have one of our nutritious meals free of charge. In an effort to make the summer meals even more accessible and convenient, we will be operating three refrigerated food trucks that will serve meals to youngsters,” Chancellor Walcott said. “We are reaching out to families through posters and flyers, thanks to the efforts of the USDA, Share Our Strength, the Mayor’s Food Policy Coordinator and the Office of SchoolFood.”
Chancellor Walcott made his comments at a press conference today at Orchard Beach, next to one of the refrigerated trucks. He was joined by USDA Regional Administrator James Arena-DeRosa, Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry NY Director Megan Cryan, Mayor’s Food Policy Coordinator Kimberly Kessler, Deputy Chancellor of Operations Kathleen Grimm, Council member James Vacca, and several non-profit organizations.
“No child should go hungry. The USDA Summer Food Service Program provides free nutritious meals to children when the school doors close,” said USDA Regional Administrator James Arena-DeRosa. “Children need good nutrition all year long, so grab a healthy lunch at a summer site near you.”
“The summer meals program is a great way to make sure that kids who get free lunch during the school year can also get the nutrition they need when school is out,” said Bill Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength. “We are thrilled to be partnering with the NYC Department of Education to ensure that every child in New York who needs something to eat can get something to eat.”
“Children who eat regular, nutritious meals have more time and energy to focus on doing what they do best: learning,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Fighting hunger is a key component of academic success. Through summer meals, the city maintains our commitment to fighting hunger year round. I hope families will take advantage of this terrific program.”
“This year, we have brought together many city agencies and nonprofit partners to help ensure that families are aware of this important program,” said Kimberly Kessler, the Mayor’s food policy coordinator. “I am grateful to these partners for their terrific efforts in getting the word out and look forward to continuing to work together.”
“The summer meals program is a wonderful opportunity for young children to receive free meals at over 1,000 schools, pools, parks and other great places in the city while they enjoy their summer vacation,” Councilman James Vacca said. “Just like during the school year, it’s absolutely vital that we continue to offer these free and nutritious meals to these youngsters during the months that they are not in school. Making sure our kids eat healthy year-round is something that we should all take seriously.”
For a location and meal hours, parents can call 311, log onto the DOE at www.opt-osfns.org/schoolfood/public1/default.aspx, visit Share Our Strength’s website at www.strength.org, or NYCFood at www.nyc.gov/nycfood. Parents also may text “nycmeals” to 877877, or visit the Parks Department website for locations at parks and pools.
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(Assemblyman Jose Rivera's opponent was listed as a candidate on the Rivera petition)