There are more than 400 sites in Connecticut where children, 18 and under, can get free summer meals. The Connecticut Summer Meals program is federally funded by the USDA and runs from June to late August.
"Everything is going up in prices. Everything, inflation, it’s insane. I don’t think a lot of people know these programs exist," said Julieth Callejas, executive director of End Hunger Connecticut. “Our focus and our goal is to let parents know across Connecticut.”
Sites were also recently given more flexibility. Some are now able to offer grab-and-go meals instead of requiring students to eat the meal onsite.
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“That gives us better access for kids to come get food," said Samantha Wilson, director of food services for New London Public Schools.
In New London, Wilson said they have seen the need increase in the last several years.
“There are sites where we see a lot of kids come out," Wilson said. "There are others where we really struggle to get the participation so we are really trying to get creative in ways that we can get the word out.”
New London runs approximately 20 sites in the summer, with eight sites in locations such as parks and various apartment complexes. They provide an average of 600 free meals a day in the summertime.
"This is something that we can have available for families to make up for that lack of food compared to what is being offered during the school year," Wilson said.