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Tag-team fills in summer meal gap for kids

News Source: Philadelphia Tribune

By: Ayana Jones

More than 330,000 children in the Delaware Valley who receive school meals may go hungry this summer, according to a new study from the Food Research and Action Center, which advocates for domestic polices to fight hunger and malnutrition.

To help fill the meal gap, Philabundance, a hunger relief organization, is offering summer food assistance to families through various initiatives, including the KidsBites LunchBox, Fresh For All and the Fill a Glass with Hope programs.

KidsBites LunchBox provides free meals to youth under the age of 18. The program is available at eight locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey through Aug. 26.

Fill a Glass with Hope gives out 2,500 quarts of fresh milk to families through selected agencies.

Through the Fresh for All initiative, free fresh produce is distributed at eight locations throughout the summer for registered families and individuals.

For registration information, visit https://www.philabundance.org/learn/about-us/programs/fresh-for-all.

“Philabundance serves more than 90,000 people each week, a third of whom are children,” said its executive director, Glenn Bergman. “As the largest hunger relief organization in the area, we need the community’s support to help feed our neighbors in need, as one in four people in our area is food insecure.”

The Philadelphia Housing Authority is rolling out its summer food service program to provide children with breakfast and lunch as well as to offer summer youth activities. The initiative stands in for the school lunch program.

The program is managed by PHA’s community operations and resident development department. Last year, the agency provided more than 68,600 meals to children ages 3 to 18 from public housing sites and the surrounding neighborhoods.

“Many families in Philadelphia depend upon the summer food service program,” said Kelvin Jeremiah, CEO of the PHA. “It’s important that our young people have access to good, nutritional meals. That is why PHA is pleased to sponsor this program with a contribution over $350,000 of its own funds to the program this year.”

Every year the program provides employment opportunities for PHA and local residents. This year, it will provide 40 part-time jobs.

The program will run from June 27 to Aug. 26 at 19 PHA sites citywide. The weekday hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at: Abbottsford Homes, Arch Homes, Bartram Village, Cambridge/John F. Street Center, Champlost, Fairhill, Haddington Homes, Harrison Plaza, Hill Creek, Johnson Homes, Morton Homes, Norris Apartments, Oxford Village, Paschall Village, Raymond Rosen, Spring Garden, West Park Apartments, Whitehall and Wilson Park.

Children who do not live near a participating PHA site can still go to a neighboring site or one of 150 sites operated by the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, which will have a similar meal program.

Residents can look for the nearest site by visiting www.phila.gov/youthprograms/meals/Pages/default.aspx, www.hungercoalition.org/summermeals or by texting “FOOD” or “MEALPA” to 877-877, or calling (855) 252-6325.

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