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Free Summer Meals Sites help reduce hunger while school is out

Summer is the hungriest time of the year for millions of low-income kids across the country and in Connecticut. In New London County, the childhood food insecurity rate is more than 18%. Being food insecure means that someone doesn’t when or where they may access their next meal.

Typically during the summer months, the demand for food increases as kids are no longer in school receiving breakfast and/or lunch. At the same time, donations to food banks tend to drop. Summer Meals Sites are essential in filling the gap to ensure that kids receive the fuel they need to continue their healthy development over the summer school break.

Summer Meals are free, nutritious meals provided for kids and teens 18 years and under when school is out of session for the summer. No registration, paperwork, parental supervision, or ID is required. Children do not need to be receiving free or reduced price meals during the school year in order to receive free Summer Meals.

Just like the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, the federal Summer Meals Programs are funded through the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by the Connecticut State Department of Education to provide kids and teens 18 and under with free, nutritious meals throughout the summer so they return to school in the fall ready to learn.

Summer Meals are provided at sites that can be found in a variety of locations across Connecticut and may even be in your own community. Summer Meals sites are often in schools, churches, playgrounds, and community centers.

In Connecticut, there are hundreds of Summer Meals Sites. To find the nearest location either dial 2-1-1, text CTMEALS to 877877, or visit http://www.ctsummerfood.org/location-finder. 2-1-1 is a free call from anywhere in Connecticut and is a program funded by the State and Connecticut United Ways. The service is available 24/7/365.

Depending on the site, a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack can be provided. Meals consist of fruit, vegetables, grains, protein, and milk. Additionally, some sites provide activities, such as arts and crafts, outdoor activities, board games, reading activities, and more.

You can help by making a donation to the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center, a local program providing food to a network of 85 free emergency food programs that help children and adults all year long. Donate online by clicking here.

You can also help spread the word about Summer Meals Sites. If you or a child under 18 you know needs help, dial 2-1-1 to find a site near you.