SYRACUSE, N.Y., June 27, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- When school lets out for summer, millions of children lose access to school meals and can go without these vital meals. In fact, the USDA reports that only one in 10 children who are eligible for Free Summer Meals participate in the government supported program, leaving 19-million children without the food they need to nourish their growing bodies.
Anti-hunger advocates officially kicked off the availability of Free Summer Meals in New York City at a press conference on June 26th. Statewide, the Free Summer Meals program will run throughout the summer.
Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg says, "Free Summer Meals reduce child hunger and boost summer learning – and are all paid for by the federal government. They are the ultimate grand slam."
On behalf of American Dairy Association North East, former New York Yankees catcher and current Yankees broadcaster John Flaherty points out the importance of maintaining good nutrition habits over the summer and the connection healthy food choices have in fueling physical and mental wellness.
"Just like choosing the right food helps fuel the brain and body so baseball players can concentrate on signals and making quick decisions, picking the right food is just as important for children," says Flaherty. "By eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and drinking lots of milk, kids can make their body and mind strong. That's why the Summer Meals program is so great! Kids can get exercise - by swimming or playing baseball in one of New York's many beautiful pools and parks - and get a healthy breakfast and lunch."
Dairy farmers from around the state also support Summer Meals programs. "As a dairy farmer, I'm proud to support programs, like Free Summer Meals, that provide more children access to healthy meals - including milk - all year round," said Kris Brock, a dairy farmer with Unc Brock Farm in Schaghticoke, N.Y. "We work hard to produce nutritious milk for every community."
Families can spend up to an additional $300 a month to feed children when school is out. Spreading the word and making families aware of the availability of Free Summer Meals is vitally important to the health of children and helps stretch the food budget.
Free Summer Meals are available to all children and teens ages 18 and under. No registration or ID is required. Children simply show up to receive a free meal, which includes items like milk, fruit, vegetables and more. Oftentimes sites include schools, libraries, parks, pools, and even mobile trucks.
There are more than 3,100 sites across New York State, including at least 1,200 in New York City. To find a Summer Meals site, New York State residents can text "food" to 877-877 or call the USDA National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3-HUNGRY.
SOURCE American Dairy Association North East