BOSTON – Wednesday, July 10, 2019 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the launch of the 2019 Boston Summer Eats Program, expanding access to healthy meals by providing free and nutritious meals to youth ages 18 and under at more than 100 locations throughout the city.
“No child in Boston should ever go hungry, and this program helps serve all students throughout the summer months,” said Mayor Walsh. “I am proud that through Boston Summer Eats, we are we are reducing food insecurity one child at a time, making sure that Boston’s students are happy, healthy, and ready before they return to the classroom next school year.”
The Boston Summer Eats program is led by the Mayor’s Office of Food Access (OFA) in partnership with Project Bread, the Greater Boston YMCA, and Boston Public Schools Food & Nutrition Services. The program provides free, nutritious meals and engaging programming to youth age 18 and under at over 100 locations around the City of Boston, including selected Boston Public Library branches, Boston Housing Authority properties, Farmers Markets, community and faith-based organizations, Boston City Hall, and the Bruce Bolling Building.
“The Boston Summer Eats program is a great example of our all-hands-on-deck approach to meeting the needs of students in the Boston Public Schools,” said BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius. “When students are well fed and ready to learn, they’re more likely to be happy and engaged with learning, whether it’s in the world around them during summer break or in the classroom. This also eases the burden on parents who want to make sure their kids are eating healthy meals during the summer.”
The program helps fill the gap in food access when school is not in session and students lose access to the daily school meals on which many rely. This year the Mayor’s Office of Food Access added 13 total Summer Eats meal sites, including a new mobile meal site which will provide meals in at least one neighborhood per day around the City. In addition to food insecurity, the program addresses and mitigates summer learning loss by providing educational and fun activities.
“The YMCA of Greater Boston will serve approximately 300,000 meals at more than 80 locations this summer,” 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 pleased to join the Mayor’s Office of Food Access and others to end childhood hunger in Boston.”
In Eastern Massachusetts, one in nine children and one in eleven adults live with food insecurity. Food insecurity is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life.
“Hunger doesn’t disappear in the summer. The same students who count on school food for more than half their daily nutrition are at risk for summer hunger and learning loss when school is on break and those meals are unavailable,” says Erin McAleer, President of Project Bread. “Summer Eats is an effective way to close that gap. We can help kids and teens stay healthy so they are both ready to learn when it is time to head back to school and also more likely to stay healthy in the future.”
Boston Summer Eats sites, supported and managed by the Mayor’s Office of Food Access, are funded by the Boston Children’s Hospital Collaboration for Community Health. This grant expands and enhances the Boston Summer Eats program across the community, making sure that difficult-to-reach populations experiencing food insecurity are aware of the program and have increased access to healthy food.
“For more than 25 years, Boston Children’s has dedicated resources and used its expertise to improve child health outcomes beyond the walls of our hospital,” says Sandra L. Fenwick, Chief Executive Officer of Boston Children’s Hospital. “Through the Collaboration for Community Health, we’re able to further extend by helping more community partners to implement programs and strategies that are vital to a child’s overall health.”
Through the Collaboration for Community Health, the City has been able to fund 32 new nontraditional sites in Boston’s neighborhoods to provide meals to kids and teens ages 18 and under. These are existing locations in the neighborhoods for community building, and adding the summer meal aspect for youth is an added resource to help communities thrive this summer.
Last summer, over 18,500 meals were served by Boston Summer Eats. Meals are available on a first come, first served basis at the following locations and times. No registration or identification is required.
To learn more about the Boston Summer Eats program and to find additional locations across the state, individuals can text “Food” or “Comida” to 877-877, call Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 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. For more information on Project Bread, visit www.projectbread.com.
About the YMCA
The YMCA 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.
About Boston Children’s Hospital
Boston Children’s Hospital is a 404-bed comprehensive center for pediatric health care. As one of the largest pediatric medical centers in the United States, Boston Children’s offers a complete range of health care services for children from birth through 21 years of age. Children’s Hospital has approximately 25,000 inpatient admissions each year and their 200+ specialized clinical programs schedule 557,000 visits annually. Last year, the hospital performed more than 26,500 surgical procedures and 214,000 radiological examinations. Their team of physicians and nurses has been recognized by a number of independent organizations for overall excellence, and a dedication to quality and patient safety is embedded in everything they do.