Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today highlighted the availability of free summer meal sites that will provide children from low-income households with healthy, nutritious meals in communities across New York when school is out. State agencies and private and non-profit partners are taking steps to raise families' awareness of the summer meal sites, which play a vital role in helping prevent hunger during the summer months.
"With schools across the state letting out for the summer, tens of thousands of low-income children will be without access to the free and reduced price meals they count on during the school year," Governor Cuomo said. "No child should ever go hungry, and the reality is that for our low-income students the summer vacation can often bring unnecessary hardship. The Summer Food Service Program can help to fill this gap. By partnering with private and non-profit organizations this program will work to ensure that children return to school in the fall fed, healthy and ready to learn."
The federally-funded Summer Food Service Program, which is administered by the New York State Education Department, offers free, nutritious meals and snacks to children 18 years old and younger from low-income households, as well as disabled adults over age 18 enrolled in school programs, during summer recess. Schools, local governments and nonprofit organizations receive funding to provide up to two meals a day during the summer to eligible children.
More than 350,000 children a day will receive meals through the program this summer.
The Education Department has set up a website, www.nysummermeals.com, which includes an interactive map with information on all of the summer meal sites in New York State. The map and listing of locations will be continually updated until the start of the program in late June.
Department of Education Commissioner, John B. King, Jr. said, "Good nutrition is essential to learning. That's why we provide breakfast and lunch to needy students throughout the school year," But the need for nutritious meals doesn't end in June when school lets out. So we're happy to help coordinate The Summer Food Service Program here in New York, ensuring that children have access to healthy meals in a multitude of sites throughout the State. Last summer 380,000 free meals were served to New York State children every day in a variety of settings ranging from schools to summer camps to migrant programs."
The State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance is continuing its outreach efforts to recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and Temporary Assistance benefits to notify them of the availability of free summer meals.
"Children from low-income households are often at risk of not having enough healthy food to eat during the summer, when schools are closed and they do not have access to free and reduced price school meals," said OTDA Commissioner Kristin M. Proud. "Summer meals sites in communities throughout the State offer free, nutritious food, often in conjunction with activities to engage the children's minds and bodies, to make sure they remain healthy, active and continue to develop socially and physically during summer recess."
The State Department of Health has added information about the Summer Food Service Program to the New York State Growing Up Healthy Hotline, which can be reached by calling 1-800-522-5006.