NEW YORK – Chancellor Carmen Fariña today announced the City served a record-breaking 8 million meals to youngsters as part of the annual initiative that provides free, healthy breakfast and lunch to millions of children 18 and younger across all five boroughs. The jump is nearly half million more from last summer when 7.6 million meals were served. The DOE first began keeping records in 2005 when 6.5 million summer meals served to youngsters.
“Our goal this year was to dramatically increase the number of children we serve, ensuring that all those who need it receive the same nutritious meals that they get during the school year and I am happy to say we exceeded our expectations,” said Schools Chancellor Chancellor Fariña. “It is crucial that children are served healthy meals to stay alert and build strength when they are growing and learning.”
The meals were served at roughly 1,000 locations, including pools, schools, libraries, parks, public housing sites, community-based organizations, and soup kitchens throughout the five boroughs. The summer meals program, administered by the DOE’s Office of SchoolFood, has been operating for over 30 years and is the largest program of its kind in the country.
“Our partners, such as the Parks Department, Share Our Strength, City Harvest, the Dairy Council and the Met Council, helped to get the word out to parents and community leaders about the summer meals program,” said Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, who oversees the program. “Our SchoolFood workers really stepped up to the plate and helped prepare and distribute the meals. Thanks to Share Our Strength, we operated four air-conditioned food trucks to distribute lunches in popular locations such as Orchard Beach in the Bronx and the Flushing Library in Queens.”
Share Our Strength arranged for donations to pay for the trucks, which served 58 percent more meals this year than last year, from 273,137 meals in 2013 to 432,240 this summer. The truck that distributed meals at Orchard Beach saw a 41 percent jump in meals served and the truck at the Queens library saw a 28 percent increase. Some of the other popular sites where children congregated this summer included McCarren Pool and in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Library at New Utrech, Carmine Recreational Center in Manhattan and the NYCHA Morris Houses in the Bronx.
“Getting food to hungry kids in the summer is not magic, it’s all about shoe leather,” said Megan Cryan, NYC Campaign Director at Share Our Strength. “By distributing outreach and marketing materials throughout the city and purchasing a new truck to provide mobile meals, we were able to reach more kids than ever before. With an increase of nearly 500,000 meals served over last year, we are working to make No Kid Hungry a reality in New York City.”