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Identity & Community

Summer Food Programs Kick Off Monday

Free summer meals will be available to Allegheny County children starting Monday.

Children ages 6 months through 18 years old can enjoy free, nutritional breakfasts and lunches at 78 locations Monday through Friday through Aug. 21. There is no income requirement.

The Allegheny County Department of Human Services starts the SummerFood Program each year as schools begin to close. Persons with disabilities aged 24 and younger are also eligible.

Lynda Black, operations manager for the SummerFood program, said that for many children, free county meals are the only food they receive.

“Any child within the age limit can come to a site and receive a meal," Black said. "We have Y’s, we have churches, we have playgrounds (and) we have schools.”

The sites are usually in the neighborhoods where children in need reside. If a venue wants to provide meals into the weekend, then the program will make sure they can provide food past the normal period. Hours vary; call individual sites for details.

The county service served meals to approximately 3,200 children in 2014.

“Last year we served over 55,000 breakfasts and over 106,000 lunches," Black said. "We’re hoping to go a little higher this year.”

Citiparks Summer Food Service Program operates in Pittsburgh providing breakfasts, lunches and snacks to children up to 18 years, as well as individuals with disabilities up to 21 years. This city service, which is scheduled to include 125 sites this year, is made possible by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Along with meals, children at several sites are also provided recreation activities. SummerFood organizers ask the locations what type of activities the children at their venue would enjoy, and the program provides the necessary materials.