On Thursday, Mayor Jim Kenney joined the Office of Youth Engagement’s (OYE) Fun Safe Philly Summer Initiative, as well as a number of nonprofit partners, to celebrate and promote access to summer meals at various sites throughout the City. During the music and activity-filled event, the City provided information and resources for children, youth and families in the community, with the purpose of highlighting the various ways residents can access these services.
“Providing meals for our children that receive meals at school during the school year encourages a healthy summer,” says Mayor Kenney. “Summer meals and the accompanying programming are key to having our kids ready to learn at the start of a new school year in the fall.”
Summer Meals is a key part of the OYE-led Fun Safe Philly Summer initiative (FSPS). FSPS supports Philadelphia’s free summer meals program in a number of ways, all with the aim of increasing the number of youth who can access free meals during the summer, as a significant number of youth who take advantage of free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch during the school year do not have access to summer meals. In addition to alleviating summer hunger, free summer meals also ensure nutritious and varied meals are given to Philadelphia youth, as all USDA-funded meals must meet federal nutrition guidelines.
“Food insecurity is a major issue not just in our city, but in our country. Too many of our children and youth are going hungry, especially during the summer months,” said Ricardo Calderon, Director for OYE. “Thankfully, in our city we have incredible individuals and organizations that work year-round to help support these young people. Due to the collective effort from the federal, state and local levels our children can receive meals at various sites throughout the city.”
Families can find the nearest summer meals site by calling the toll-free Philly Summer Meals Hotline, 1-855-252-MEAL (6325), texting “FOOD” to 877877 or by visiting the searchable map at www.phillysummermeals.org. There are more than 1,000 places in Philadelphia that serve free meals and snacks to kids and teens age 18 and under. There are no income requirements, ID, or registration in qualifying areas. Sites include recreation centers, churches, schools, public housing complexes and community organizations.
The summer meals partners are as follows:
• Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger
• Pennsylvania Department of Education
• United States Department of Agriculture
• Philadelphia Parks and Recreation
• Nutritional Development Services, Archdiocese of Philadelphia
• The School District of Philadelphia
• Get Healthy Philly, Philadelphia Department of Public Health
• American Dairy Association
• The Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia
FSPS’s work around summer meals includes convening quarterly meetings with Philadelphia area stakeholders and conducting outreach to raise awareness of the program. FSPS acts as a local convener providing a forum for stakeholders to share best practices.