Leaders Want To Make Sure Kids Get Meals During The Summer Months
Speaking at a press event in Troy Hill Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey pushed for legislation he’s supporting that would improve summer food programs for children.
The bill would improve the area eligibility test to allow communities to participate if 40 percent of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (rather than the 50 percent it currently is). It would also provide funding for transportation grants that could be used for food trucks and allow sites to serve a third meal (rather than two meals and a snack).
“We have to make sure that when there is a program in place for children to be fed, whether it’s a school lunch program during the school year or a school breakfast program during the school year, that those children who are eligible in fact get served," Casey said. "Unfortunately around the state and around the country a lot of children who are eligible are not being served.”
Eighty percent of kids receive free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch in Pittsburgh schools during the school year.
Casey spoke at the event along with local leaders including Jim Griffin, director of Pittsburgh Parks and Recreation, who want to make sure kids continue getting meals during the summer months.
One effort is through GrubUp’s new food truck, which will visit pools, parks, playgrounds and libraries in June, July and August. The truck can be tracked here: http://www.grubuppgh.com. Traditionally, federally funded summer meals are served at recreation centers.
The truck is funded by $90,000 in grants and aims to serve 76,000 meals daily through Aug. 14.
According to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, more than 45,000 children in Pittsburgh are considered food insecure, and 73,000 kids in the county are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
Food bank CEO Lisa Scales said these efforts are needed, as despite all of their pantries and efforts, reaching all of the children who need meals proves challenging in the summer months.
“Good nutritious food is a building block for a child’s future," she said. "Investing in it now means that kids will be able to ready to learn in the classroom."
To find a site that serves food for youth, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank says to call 211.