Free Summer Eats in Full Swing

With school out and summer in full swing, children that receive free or reduced breakfast and lunches during the school year might have been out of a meal if it wasn’t for the free summer food programs sponsored by the City of Boston and the Greater Boston YMCA. Many children depend on school breakfast and lunches as their main source of nutrition.  For many of these young kids it becomes more difficult to get the nutritious foods they need to grow healthy and strong during the summer. Last Wednesday, Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice (OFJ) announced that 155 Boston Summer Eats Program meal sites opened July 5, 2022, running throughout the summer. Wu said Boston Summer Eats is an innovative effort to lessen the summer food gap by increasing the availability of non-traditional meal sites that are open to all households. The program launched in 2017 with the goal to expand access to free and healthy meals for youth and teens in Boston. “Boston’s Summer Eats program and our Farmer’s Market coupon program supports a food systems approach to provide residents with nutritious foods that also support our local economy and the health of our planet,” said Mayor Wu. “I am excited to get out to some of our Summer Eats and Farmers Market sites and encourage residents to visit them as well.”  In Back Bay Summer Eats food sites include Boloco Commons at 176 Boylston Street serving lunch from 11 am to 1 pm Monday through Friday and lunch from 11 am to 8 pm on Saturday; the Copley Square Farmers Market serving lunch from 12 pm to 1 pm and snacks from 3 pm to 4 pm on Tuesdays and Fridays; Trinity Boston Connects at 206 Claredon Street  serving breakfast from 9 am to 9:30 am and lunch from 12 pm to 1 pm Monday through Friday; and Castle Square Tenants Organization  at 464 Tremont St. serving breakfast from 9 am to 10 am and lunch from 11 am to 12 pm Monday through Friday. Residents who wish to access free meals for youth aged 18 and under can find additional sites at www.boston.gov/summer-eats or find additional locations across the state by texting “Food” or “Comida” to 304-304. Hours of operation vary depending on the site, and most meal sites are currently offering breakfast, lunch and snacks. No registration or identification is required. This year, there will be no “grab and go” options available at sites. Youth will be strongly encouraged to eat on site. The Boston Summer Eats program is led by the OFJ and the Greater Boston YMCA, a sponsor for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The program is in partnership with Project Bread, the Shah Foundation as well as many community partners and City of Boston sites including Boston Public Library (BPL), Boston Housing Authority (BHA), and Boston Public Schools (BPS). “Summer should be a joyous time where children and youth should not have to worry about food,” said President/CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston James O’S. Morton, Esq. “Boston Summer Eats removes barriers for children and youth and makes it easy for them to access food across the City. Through strong collaboration with partners, we are able to not only distribute meals, but culturally appropriate meals that children and youth want.” Another resource that households with children can use together with Summer Eats is the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) program. Pandemic EBT is also available for families when schools are closed. All students in Boston schools are eligible for P-EBT as well as infants and children 0-5 years old whose families get SNAP benefits. K-12 students will receive a total of $391 in P-EBT benefits in two equal payments of $195.50 this summer. The first payment was issued on July 3 and the second payment will be issued on August 3.

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