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Summer Eats to provide meals for youth at more than 100 Boston locations

July 19, 2018

Food Initiatives

Published by:

Food Access

The Walsh Administration has teamed up with local partners to provide free meals for youth 18 and under at sites across the City of Boston throughout summer 2018.

 Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the launch of the 2018 Boston Summer Eats Program, which builds on his commitment to improve overall access to healthy food by providing free and nutritious meals throughout the day to youth under age 18 at more than 100 locations across the city.

"No child in the City of Boston should ever have to experience food insecurity simply because school is out of session," said Mayor Walsh. "Through Boston Summer Eats, we are working to close the Summer Food Gap by providing easily accessible places for youth throughout the city to eat healthy meals and participate in fun and engaging programming before they transition into the next school year."

Boston Summer Eats is a program designed to make meals accessible to city kids and youth and is comprised of five summer meal programs - Lunch on the Lawn, Books and Bites, Summer Eats at the Bolling Building, Summer Eats at Farmers Markets, and Summer Eats at Boston Housing Authority (BHA) locations. Following a successful pilot program at City Hall Plaza and the Mattapan Public Library in 2017, Boston Summer Eats will expand to include over include over 118 sites, including additional BPL branches, Boston Housing Authority properties, the Bolling Building, and 10 farmers markets. At the various locations, children and youth can obtain free meals and participate in engaging programming comprised of arts and crafts, physical fitness activities, and early literacy programs administered through ReadBoston.

"In addition to free summer meals, the Books and Bites Program provides a safe and welcoming space for community members," said Catalina López-Ospina, Director of the Mayor's Office of Food Access. "It gives the opportunity to introduce families and kids to other services and resources that BPL and the City of Boston offer to the community while helping combat food insecurity and summer learning loss."

In 2017, approximately one in five (i.e., 18 percent) Boston Public High School students reported going hungry because there was not enough food in their home at least sometimes in the past 30 days, according to the Boston Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.

"We know there are any number of reasons kids might not be able to access Summer Eats when school is out, and the City of Boston has gone above and beyond to address them. Boston Summer Eats is a great example of how communities can meet people where they already are to increase access to healthy food-whether at housing developments, libraries, schools, or other community locations," said Erin McAleer, President of Project Bread. "By bringing these meals--often paired with enrichment activities--directly to where families live and play, Boston Summer Eats reduces stigma and increases kids' opportunities to learn and engage during the summer."

Partners involved in the 2018 Boston Summer Eats program include: the Mayor's Office of Food Access (OFA), Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), Boston Public Library (BPL), Boston Housing Authority (BHA), and Boston Public Schools (BPS), in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Project Bread, the YMCA of the Greater Boston.

Through Summer Eats at Farmers Markets, participating farmers markets will engage and inform families and youth about locally grown, fresh produce available to them. These markets are not only an opportunity to spread the word on the many options for free or low-cost nutrition programs, but are also a way for communities to thrive this summer.

"The YMCA of Greater Boston will serve close to 300,000 meals this summer and has a goal of serving over 1 million meals to the greater Boston community by 2020," said James Morton, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston.  "During the summer months, 80.3 percent of students who eat lunch at school during the school year do not participate in a summer food program, and we are committed to addressing this disparity by providing healthy and nutritious meals to as many children as possible."

Meals are available on a first-come first-serve basis at the following locations and times. No identification or registration is required.

Last summer, over 1,000 meals were served at City Hall. Now in its second year, the program will give young people living, visiting, and working in Boston easy access to free food during the summer. There is much hope for continued success, as coordinators are hoping to expand the program's reach next summer.

To learn more about the Boston Summer Eats program individuals can text "Food" or "Comida" to 877-877, call 1-800-645-8333, or visit www.meals4kids.org.

ABOUT THE MAYOR'S OFFICE OF FOOD ACCESS

The Mayor's Office of Food Access strives to give all residents of Boston access to nutritious, affordable, culturally conscious food. Keeping the diversity of Boston's population at heart, OFA's goal is to create a more food secure City with a vibrant, inclusive food culture.

ABOUT PROJECT BREAD

Project Bread is committed to preventing and ending hunger in Massachusetts. As a leading statewide anti-hunger organization, Project Bread approaches hunger as a complex problem with multiple solutions, providing immediate access to affordable, healthy food while also eradicating the systemic causes of hunger.  Project Bread creates innovative initiatives and supports effective programs to end food insecurity in Massachusetts.

ABOUT THE YMCA

The Y is the nation's leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.The Y makes accessible the support and opportunities that empower people and communities to learn, grow and thrive. With a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Y nurtures the potential of every youth and teen, improves the nation's health and well-being and provides opportunities to give back and support neighbors.