Kids who depend on free lunch can still get meals during summer
Advocates for Children of New Jersey reports an increase in the number of hungry school-age kids who are receiving summertime meals.
Advocates Vice President Mary Coogan says there has been a 27 percent increase in the number of eligible Jersey kids who are receiving meals during the summer under a federal nutrition program.
"I think in part the New Jersey Food for Thought Coalition, which ACNJ co-leads with the Anti-Hunger League, has done a tremendous amount of work outreaching, trying to get the word out there about the summer meals. The Department of Agriculture for the State of New Jersey has also tried to get the word out, is offering training to enable community organizations to meet the requirements for the federal program."
But that only represents 20 percent of those who could receive meal help.
These kids receive free nutrition during the school year at school meals programs. New Jersey has been moving toward serving those meals after the bell in order to get food into as many eligible children as possible.
But where do hungry, low-income children in New Jersey go for these meals when school is out?
According to Coogan, "There could be a school enrichment program at a library, at a local school. There could be some type of health clinic. There could be something set up in an apartment complex, or in a recreation department or even in a park where kids are coming together for some type of programing and then that site could become a sponsor and serve meals."
Coogan says 95,000 hungry, eligible children now receive meals. The reports shows that's an increase from 75,000 receiving the meals in 2015 in New Jersey.
"I think that one of the main points is that this is not going to cost New Jersey taxpayers anything," she said, because the program is paid for by Federal dollars.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5