Summer Eats Program | West Suburban YMCA

"Summer Eats" Program Serves Thousands of Free Meals

Aug 28, 2019

Thousands of meals served to local youth this summer through partnership between West Suburban YMCA and Bentley University

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Newton, MA - This summer, the West Suburban YMCA partnered with Bentley University to bring Summer Eats—Massachusetts' federally funded summer food service program—to the Newton Corner area for the first time. Summer Eats provides free meals to children ages 18 and under when school is not in session.

Beginning on June 24 and running for eight weeks, the Summer Eats program distributed 2,310 lunches and 4,991 snacks to youth in the community. Many children attending Camp Pikati, the West Suburban YMCA's on-site summer day camp, took advantage of the meal service, with roughly 47% of campers receiving the free lunch while attending camp.

Lunches consisted of healthy options for children that included an entrée, a side, and a choice of 1% or chocolate milk. A second, different side option was available later in the day as an afternoon snack. Examples of entrees served included turkey and cheddar sandwiches on whole wheat bread, sweet corn and black bean salad with salsa and chips, and tuna roll-up wraps with cheese; the sides included items such as carrots with ranch dressing or hummus, fresh fruit cups, and whole fruit. Free lunches were available to children Monday through Friday between the hours of 11:30am-1:00pm and an afternoon snack was offered between 2:30-3:30pm. All children ages 18 and under were eligible to receive a free lunch and/or snack, and no I.D. or registration was required.

According to the USDA, nearly 10% of Massachusetts households experience food insecurity. Summer Eats helps to bridge the gap for families who struggle with food insecurity during the summer break, when free or reduced-price school meals are no longer available to them. These children may be at risk for hunger and malnutrition, and they return to school in September at a disadvantage relative to their peers. When children have reliable access to food during the summer, they can return to school ready to learn. By providing free, nutritious meals throughout the summer, Summer Eats ensures that every child has access to the food they need to succeed.

Summer Eats is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered in Massachusetts by the Massachusetts Department of Education, who selected the West Suburban YMCA as an eligible site for the program. Bentley University sponsored the program at the Y, preparing and delivering meals daily as well as providing additional funds to help promote the program.

The West Suburban YMCA and Bentley University plan to offer the Summer Eats program again in 2020 and hope to raise awareness among local families to reach even more youth next summer.

 

This article was updated on 8/30/2019 to reflect an updated total of lunches and snacks distributed. Snacks prepared by Bentley University continued to be delivered and distributed for two weeks following the official end date of the Summer Eats program.