FLORENCE, Mass. (WWLP) – Hunger becomes even more of a problem for low-income families during school vacation.
The Summer Eats Program provides free meals for kids during the summer, a time when some parents struggle to feed their children.
One in six children has no regular access to food in the United States. The Massachusetts Summer Eats Program is once again providing free meals to children in low-income communities, to ensure children continue to stay healthy during summer vacation.
Hampshire County families enjoyed free meals Monday at the Ryan Road Elementary School in Florence.
Erin McAleer, President of Project Bread, told 22News, “The number one barrier is awareness. We are only reaching 14 percent of the kids we need to reach right now. So it’s just raising awareness and making sure people know they have a meal. No identification is required. Kids 18 and under.”
These free meals offered through this program may be the only meal a child eats in a given day. Many low income families rely on the meals during the summer months when school breakfast isn’t available.
“It’s a big boost for families whose children normally eat during the school year at school. It fills in the gap,” said Chelsea Wipf of South Hadley.
Congressman Jim McGovern wants to make sure the Summer Eats Program continues to receive federal funding through the USDA.
“School breakfast and lunches are every bit as important as a textbook. Nutrition is important during the summer months so kids can develop, read and get ready for the school year,” said McGovern.
There are more than 450,000 students who rely on school meals in Massachusetts.