Meals will be served at public pools, parks playgrounds throughout the city from June 28 to August 31
Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott today announced that the annual summer meals program begins June 28 and runs to August 31. Free breakfast and lunch are available to youngsters 18 and younger, regardless of New York City residency. The meals will be available at roughly 1,000 locations, including pools, schools, libraries, parks, public housing sites, and soup kitchens throughout the five boroughs. Share Our Strength, a national non-profit that focuses on eliminating childhood hunger, produced postcards and flyers that are being distributed throughout the City through food advocates, community-based organizations City agencies and the Department of Education to alert families of the summer meals program.
“This is a great opportunity for families who want to spend time at a City pool or park and have a meal free of charge, that is nutritious and delicious,” Chancellor Walcott said. “The meals meet the nutritional guidelines that we developed with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and thanks to the Mayor’s Food Policy Coordinator, the Office of SchoolFood and Share Our Strength, we have a terrific outreach effort to get the word out.”
“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 Billy Shore, founder and executive director 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.”
Breakfast is served from 8:00 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. and lunch is served from 11:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. In an effort to make the summer meals even more accessible and convenient, the DOE’s Office of SchoolFood is operating three refrigerated food trucks that will serve meals to youngsters at Orchard Beach in the Bronx and Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. During the weekend only lunch is served and mobile food trucks are operational during weekends only for at Flushing Meadows – Corona Park. Weekend lunch hours at pools and parks vary according to individual sites.
This year, parents have many ways to find a location close to them. They can call 311, log onto either the DOE at schools.nyc.gov, Share Our Strength’s website, or the Mayor’s Food Policy Coordinator’s website. Parents also may text “nycmeals to 877877, or visit the Parks Department website for locations in parks and pools. The DOE’s summer meals program, which is administered by the Office of SchoolFood, has been operating for more than 30 years. Last year the DOE saw a 3.4 percent increase in the number of meals served from 6.9 million in the summer of 2010 to 7.1 million in the summer of 2011.
“Children do not need to be enrolled in summer school to participate in the summer meals program, no application is required, and meals are available at many locations, regardless of where a child lives,” said Deputy Chancellor of Operations Kathleen Grimm.
“We have been working hard with both City agencies and nonprofit partners to get the word out about summer meals, because we know that the need for healthy food does not go away over summer vacation,” said Kimberly Kessler, the Mayor’s food policy coordinator. “We want children to take advantage of this great program.”
This summer’s menu includes many long-time favorites such as pancakes, scrambled eggs, bagels with yogurt cream cheese, barbecue-roasted chicken, whole grain pasta, crunchy carrots, “confetti” corn salad, chicken tenders salad, and a cold vegetable stew with zucchini, corn, tomato, and basil. All the meals provided are low in fat, low in sodium, and prepared without artificial colors or sweeteners.
“No child in America should go hungry,” said James Arena-DeRose, northeast regional administrator for the USDA Food and Nutrition. “In collaboration with the Bloomberg Administration, NY state, NYC-DOE, and community partners across the city, when school is out the federal summer meals program provides critical nutrition assistance to thousands of children in New York City.”
“So very many children get their main meal in school and the City of New York understands and acts upon this reality,” said Randi Herman, First Vice President of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. “The DOE’s summer meals program is as important as its summer school program: you can’t have one without the other.”
“I’m thrilled the DOE is promoting the free summer meals program, I’ve traveled to meal sites around the country and the food quality in NYC is among the best I’ve seen,” said Joel Berg, executive director of the NYC Coalition Against Hunger.
“Childhood hunger does not take a summer vacation. Fortunately, the Summer Meals program provides children in all five boroughs with free meals, all summer long,” said Jennifer March-Joly, executive director of Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York. “CCC applauds outreach efforts that inform New Yorkers about this invaluable program, thereby ultimately improving children's access to healthy meals throughout the summer.”
“Many children rely on the balanced breakfasts and lunches provided by the SchoolFood initiative as their primary meals,” said Jilly Stephens, executive director of City Harvest. “Providing New York City children access to nutritious foods plays an important role in helping fight hunger, obesity and diet-related diseases and, by reaching out to our city’s youth today, we are helping create the framework for a healthier population tomorrow.”
With hundreds of thousands of New York City public school students losing their free or reduced-price school meals, it’s important that parents in NYC know the Summer Meals program is there to fill the gap with a nutritious breakfast and lunch,” said Margarette Purvis, President and CEO of the Food Bank For New York City. “The Food Bank is proud to work in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office, the Office of SchoolFood and our partners in the hunger community to connect low-income families to this valuable resource.”