New Haven’s Free Summer Meal Plan officially began Monday and area leaders are spreading the word.
“People at their core are concerned about children and making sure children are getting the food that they need in order to be able to survive and to thrive,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro.
DeLauro was joined by the mayors and school superintendents of New Haven and Hamden to discuss the program.
From June 24 until August 16, breakfasts, lunches, suppers, and mobile pantries will be available to New Haven and Hamden kids 18 years and younger. No registration is required.
Wanda Perez is a member of Witnesses to Hunger, a hunger advocacy group comprised of people who have experienced hunger themselves. She said the value of the Free Summer Meal program and wishes more would take advantage.
“I wish it would go all year round. Because it’s not just New Haven, it’s all over the world that children are going to bed hungry,” said Perez.
In 2018, nearly 195,000 meals were served during the 8-week period and advocates of the program hope to increase that number this year.
“If you’re hungry and shy, you know what, be shy on a full stomach.” said Kim Hart, a site leader for Witness to Hunger.
Program representatives say children obtain 50-percent of their calories from food eaten at school through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs and that the summer meal plan aims to fill the void while school is out.
“I think it’s important for all of us to be concerned about the inextricable link between food and nutrition and inconsistent food supply many people face in this city,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.