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Governor Cuomo Announces Free Meals to Boost Children's Nutrition During Summer Months

As Schools End Regular Sessions, Program Gears Up to Serve Nearly 360,000 Children at Schools, Parks and Camps

June 29, 2015 – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the availability of free summer meals sites throughout the state to provide children from low-income households with fresh, healthy food when schools are out of session. Data from a national report shows nearly 360,000 children received free summer meals in New York in 2014, an increase of nine percent from 2013.

“Stamping out child hunger in New York is not only a top priority of this administration, it’s absolutely vital to this state’s future health,” Governor Cuomo said. “This program will help ensure children who rely on reduced-price meals during the school year still have access to healthy food during the summer months – an important part of our efforts to make child hunger a relic of the past in the Empire State.”

Governor Cuomo also issued a proclamation recognizing July as Summer Meals Month in New York State to acknowledge the importance of this effort.

The federally-funded Summer Food Service Program, administered by the New York State Education Department, helps fill a gap for families who count on free and reduced-price school meals during the school year to help feed their children. In 2014, federal and State reimbursements exceeded $40 million dollars in New York State. Summer meals site sponsors are paid a per meal cost to serve up to two meals per day.

In 2014, three in 10 children who received school meals also received summer meals in New York. That’s nearly twice the national rate, according to a report from the Food Research and Action Center.

Acting State Education Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin said, “Good nutrition goes hand in hand with learning and that's why breakfast and lunch is available in our schools throughout the school year. The Summer Food Service Program provides another opportunity for children to access wholesome and nutritious meals during the summer. These meals promote overall good health and optimize proper growth and development which can positively impact a child’s ability to learn. The New York State Education Department is committed to increasing the number of effective and sustainable sites to ensure all eligible children have access to the Summer Food Service Program.”

New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Executive Deputy Commissioner Sharon Devine said, “We are committed to working with our partners in local government, as well as the nonprofit and private sectors, to make sure more children have access to healthy meals when school is out. While New York does better than most states, we recognize there is much room for improvement, and raising awareness of the free meals program is an important part of that.”

Margarette Purvis, President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City and the Chair of Governor Cuomo’s Anti-Hunger Task Force , said, “Many hardworking families depend on free and reduced-price school meals to ensure that the family’s food dollars can last the entire week. During the summer months, when those meals are missing, families find themselves in crisis. Making things worse, many families are unaware that their children are eligible for free and nutritious meals through the summer meals program. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Cuomo, we are so pleased that families and communities will receive the vital resources and information needed to ensure that no child goes hungry. Food Bank continues to be committed to helping spread awareness of this critical program to families in need.”

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney said, “No child should go hungry just because school is out for the summer. This program invests in our communities by getting kids nutritious food during the summer, and I’m proud to support it.”

Children ages 18 and under, and disabled young adults over 18 who are enrolled in school programs for persons with disabilities, can receive free nutritious meals and snacks at the summer meals sites.

To find a site in your community or for further information, call 1-800-522-5006 or visit summermealsny.org.

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