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How to host a summer meals site

Students eating a romaine salad provided by Nutritional Development Services. May 16, 2019 Category: FeaturedMediumPurpose

Disclosures

This is a guest post by Alyssa Bradley, the advocacy and communications associate at Coalition Against Hunger.
Summer in Philadelphia is fast approaching — the season of farmers markets, street festivals, and water ice.

Children will soon be off from school, and while parents may begin the countdown until it starts again, they must first find child care, camps, and other options to keep their children safe, active, and nourished. In a city where nearly 1 in 8 children experience food insecurity, this last part can be a challenge.

When schools are closed and reliable access to school meals ends, many families scramble to stretch food budgets beyond their limits. Fortunately, the federally funded Summer Meals Program provides free meals and snacks to kids and teens age 18 and under throughout the city. Local organizations, with the help of hundreds of residents who organize summer meals sites in their communities, provide an important resource for families who struggle to provide consistent access to nutritious food at home.

Nearly 1 in 8 children experience food insecurity in Philadelphia.

Last summer, the program had more than 1,000 sites, but there are still children in Philadelphia who aren’t being served. It is the goal of anti-hunger and community organizations across the city to reach every food insecure child in Philly, and provide them with a safe space and good food. In order to reach that goal, we need many more organizations and individuals to host summer meal sites, and become heroes for hungry children in their communities.

Two of the city’s largest summer meals sponsors, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (PPR) and Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (NDS) work with hundreds of sites. Some are in parks or recreation centers, others at YMCAs, churches, and camps. In fact, hundreds of “Playstreets” run by volunteers on residential streets also participate.

“The Summer Meals Program is a wonderful example of how collaboration between agencies and communities can help to end hunger,” saiid Katie Milholin, community educator for the Coalition Against Hunger. “Summer meals would not be possible without sponsors like Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and Nutritional Development Services, but kids don’t get served unless community members step up, become a meal site, and take the mission of fighting hunger into their own hands”.

Sites can be large or small, can run all week or on select days, and can participate for select weeks or run full summer from June to August. It all depends on the site’s capacity and the time its volunteers or staff can commit to the program.

From our Partners

It’s easy to serve free meals to children under 18 this summer. You can host a summer meals site for children on your block, in your community, or at your organization. The following Philadelphia site sponsors can work with you to bring summer meals to your neighborhood or summer program:

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation

215-685-2725

  • Runs the Playstreets Program, which allows city blocks to close to traffic to provide meals and activities during the summer. Playstreets requirements:
    • No numbered streets, bus routes, or major thoroughfares
    • Must be a residential block with no businesses

Nutritional Development Services (NDS)

215-895-3470, OPTION 1

  • Works with a wide variety of summer programs, organizations, and outdoor neighborhood meal sites
  • Review the NDS list of frequently asked questions

Visit phillysummermeals.org for more information as well as a complete map of all of Philadelphia’s summer meal sites.

Be a hero for the children in your community. Become a summer meals site sponsor today.

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