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Annual summer meals program now underway at Orchard Beach

Bronx Times

Get it while it’s hot!

The annual summer meals program is now underway.

Chancellor Dennis Walcott, joined by federal and city agencies and non-profit organizations at Orchard Beach on the program’s kick-off day, Friday, July 13, encouraged families to take advantage of free breakfast and lunch for their youngsters through the program, which 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.

The Department of Education is also operating a mobile refrigerated truck that provides meals to children at Orchard Beach. It also operates another refrigerated truck at Flushing Meadows Park and will shortly add a third one to serve meals to youngsters at Queens Farm Park, Walcott said.

The DOE said it served more than 7 million meals last summer, including 67,000 meals served by the trucks. That’s more meals than some states served for their entire summer program, it said.

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,” the chancellor 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 School Food.”

Bill Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength, said he is thrilled to be partnering with the DOE to ensure that every child in New York who needs something to eat gets it.

“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,” Shore said.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca agreed.

“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,” 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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