MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The start of summer break ushers in the end of food service programs kids and families rely on during the school year. The federally funded Summer Meals Program bridges the gap to ensure no child goes hungry.
“The most difficult time of year for food insecurity is hands-down, absolutely the summertime,” said Jacob Jakubowski, President & CEO of Connecticut Food Bank/Foodshare.
At Maloney High School in Meriden on Thursday, anti-hunger advocates, educators, and elected officials stressed the importance of this program. In Meriden, there will be nine distribution sites.
“Those meals include both lunch and breakfast as we do throughout the school year,” said Mayor Kevin Scarpati, of Meriden.
They also encouraged everyone, who’s eligible for this program, to take advantage of it. Nationwide, only 1 in 7 children receive summer meals due to barriers, including transportation, work schedules, and lack of awareness about the program.
“Last year, we served over six-million meals at over 800 sites, but I think we can do better,” said Charlene Russell-Tucker, Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education. “That’s why we’re here: to say we can all do better going forward.”
These meals will be offered for free in communities across Connecticut for any child 18 and under. The hope is to feed as many children as possible.
“You can’t go by without a meal,” stressed Governor Ned Lamont, of Connecticut. “It’s not an option. It’s not an option.”
Anyone in need of food assistance or who is looking for a Summer Meals site can call 2-1-1, the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-348-6479, or text “Summer Meals” to 97779.