City will provide free meals for Boston youth this summer
Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the launch of the 2018 Boston Summer Eats Program last week to improve overall access to healthy food by providing free and nutritious meals throughout the day to youth under age 18 at more than 100 locations across the city.
“No child in the City of Boston should ever have to experience food insecurity simply because school is out of session,” said Walsh. “Through Boston Summer Eats, we are working to close the summer food gap by providing easily accessible places for youth throughout the city to eat healthy meals and participate in fun and engaging programming before they transition into the next school year.”
Boston Summer Eats is comprised of five summer meal programs: Lunch on the Lawn, Books and Bites, Summer Eats at the Bolling Building, Summer Eats at Farmers Markets and Summer Eats at Boston Housing Authority locations.
Following a successful pilot program at City Hall Plaza and the Mattapan Public Library in 2017, Boston Summer Eats will expand to include over 118 sites, including additional BPL branches, Boston Housing Authority properties, the Bolling Building in Roxbury and 10 farmers markets. At the various locations, children and youth can obtain free meals and participate in arts and crafts, physical fitness activities and early literacy programs administered through ReadBoston.
Through Summer Eats at Farmers Markets, participating farmers markets will engage and inform families and youth about locally grown, fresh produce available to them.
“In addition to free summer meals, the Books and Bites Program provides a safe and welcoming space for community members,” said Catalina López-Ospina, director of the Mayor’s Office of Food Access. “It gives the opportunity to introduce families and kids to other services and resources that BPL and the City of Boston offer to the community while helping combat food insecurity and summer learning loss.”
In 2017, approximately one in five, or 18 percent, Boston Public High School students reported going hungry because there was not enough food in their home, according to the Boston Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System.
“We know there are any number of reasons kids might not be able to access Summer Eats when school is out, and the City of Boston has gone above and beyond to address them,” said Erin McAleer, president of Project Bread. “Boston Summer Eats is a great example of how communities can meet people where they already are to increase access to healthy food, whether at housing developments, libraries, schools or other community locations.”
Partners involved in the 2018 Boston Summer Eats program include: the Mayor’s Office of Food Access, Boston Public Health Commission, Boston Public Library, Boston Housing Authority and Boston Public Schools, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Project Bread, the YMCA of the Greater Boston.
“The YMCA of Greater Boston will serve close to 300,000 meals this summer and has a goal of serving over 1 million meals to the greater Boston community by 2020,” 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 committed to addressing this disparity by providing healthy and nutritious meals to as many children as possible.”
Last summer, over 1,000 meals were served at City Hall.
Meals are available on a first-come first-serve basis at the following locations and times. No identification or registration is required.