Free Summer Lunches Underway

IMG_1074Meghan Keneally Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The summer lunch program that provides free meals to children throughout the city has six distribution locations in the East Village including local pools, schools, and low income housing developments.

And even though the number of sites was cut dramatically since last year, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said that he hopes to distribute more meals than ever for students this summer.

“Our goal is to get to where the children are,” Mr. Walcott said at a news conference Wednesday morning at P.S. 20 Anna Silver on Essex Street

While budgeting and funding clearly were in mind, Mr. Walcott said that the change — from 478 distribution sites last summer to 372 this summer — was more a revaluation of resources than a cut and that all children are within a five to seven block walk of a distribution location.

“We did mapping. We took a look at those sites that are near there, and for every site that may not be in existence right now from last year, there is a school or some type of site available to them that’s near that particular location,” Mr. Walcott said Wednesday morning.

The summer lunches are a substitute for the meals low-income students receive during the school year. The menu varies daily but typical meals include sandwiches, pasta with vegetables, and baked chicken.

“Kids are also at a higher risk for hunger — and obesity — during the summer because they lose access to school meals,” said Billy Shore, director of the non-profit Share Our Strength, one of five partners that helps run the city’s summer lunch program with the Department of Education.

IMG_1079Meghan Keneally One of the trucks that distribute summer lunches.

Mr. Walcott said that his administration’s goal this summer is to distribute more meals than years previous, hopefully surpassing the record of 7 million. City administrators have also extended the program until Sept. 2 — as opposed to late August as done previously — and using two refrigerated trucks to reach different areas.

Of the six distribution locations in the East Village, four began serving meals last Wednesday and the remaining two — both located in income-assisted housing on Avenue C — will begin today.

A searchable database for meal locations across the city can be found here.

The East Village locations are:

  • Dry Dock Pool, East 10th Street between Avenues C & D
  • Jacob Riis Houses, 468 East 10th Street
  • P.S. 15 – Roberto Clemente, 333 East Fourth Street
  • Tompkins Mini Pool, Ninth Street & Avenue A
  • Lower East Side GRD5, Avenue C, Apt 1A
  • Lower Eastside II, 296 East Fourth Street