New Castle News


May 20, 2014

Photo Gallery, Story: Summer food program kicked off

NEW CASTLE — Where do children on free and reduced school lunch programs eat during the summer?

This question haunts school and federal officials. As a result, government and private groups have been partnering for years to provide low-income children with summer meals.

The kickoff  was Monday at George Washington Intermediate Elementary School on Euclid Avenue. Students each received a drawstring sack from Christina Winniewicz of the Pittsburgh Food Bank filled with information about the Summer Food Service Program sites.

Participating community groups also had activities and literature about their food programs. Several adults dressed as peasants and princesses for the event, which was themed “Fables and Fairytales.”

Students could get temporary tattoos and yarn bracelets, play games and golf, make stone soup and take part in other activities.

Kevin Concannon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary for food, nutrition and consumer services, also attended Monday’s event. He said publicizing the program is crucial because “summertime is the most likely time for children to go hungry.”

Concannon said more than 600,000 Pennsylvania children take part in free and reduced school lunches based on family income adding that last summer, 125,000 went to summer feeding programs around the state. The federal program reimburses the state, which then reimburses local groups for providing healthy food in low-income communities, he said.

There is no paperwork. Children ages 1 to 18 just need to show up at one of the sites.

Joe Anderson, principal of George Washington, said the program is especially dear to his heart because he had worked at several summer feeding playground sites when he was a college student in the 1990s.

He said that at George Washington, more than 70 percent of the students receive free or reduced lunches. Whether those students will eat regularly during the summer is worrisome, he said.

“We’re going to let these kids go in two weeks,” he said, “this gives us peace of mind.”

Some of the food sites include Ben Franklin, Gettings Annex, Neshannock Village, Crestview Gardens, Westview Terrace, Grant Street Center, Harbor Heights, Croton United Methodist Church, Highland Presbyterian Church, Church of Genesis, New Castle Library, Bible Way Church, Big Run, Heritage Hills, Walker House, Sankey Center, Ellwood City Early Learning Center, Villa Maria Education Center Grow Camp and the Hoyt Children’s Summer Art Camp.

Enrollment is necessary at the Hoyt and at Villa Maria. Most of the other sites will provide lunch weekdays from June 9 to Aug. 22. Some sites also will provide breakfast.

More information about the program is available by calling the 211 United Way Hotline.

(To view a photo gallery from the event, CLICK HERE.)


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