Gov. Malloy: Summer Meals Program Hits All-Time High of 700 Sites Across Connecticut
(EAST HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell today announced that the Connecticut Summer Meals Program reached an important milestone. Connecticut now has over 700 locations across the state serving free, nutritious meals to children during the summer.
The 714 sites serving Connecticut children represents a 33 percent increase from 2011, when the state had 536 sites.
"Our summer meal programs play a critical role serving children and families who experience hunger when school is not in session. Reaching this all-time high demonstrates that we are making a difference in the lives of young people," Governor Malloy said. "Our commitment to combatting childhood hunger is so important - and we are making strides."
"Each spring, End Hunger CT staff and volunteers blitz the state to raise awareness of summer meals sites. Every year, I stand before them I am reminded of what makes Connecticut so special - hundreds of residents who come out to ensure every child has food during the summer and goes back to school healthy and ready to learn," Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. "Thank you all for your work and your partnership. This is a great success for us all."
"Summer meal programs help kids fuel up, have fun, and get the nutrition they need for growth and good health," Commissioner Wentzell said. "They increase awareness of the importance of healthy food choices and physical activity during the summer months, and we are fortunate in Connecticut to have an incredible group of dedicated partners who have worked together to reach this milestone."
Summer meals are an extension of the free and reduced-price lunch and breakfast programs that schools provide during the school year. During the summer, schools and community partners set up meal programs for children at parks, churches, libraries, playgrounds, camps, food pantries, community recreation centers, and many other locations throughout the state. The meals are free and any young person 18 or under can participate.
In 2015, the Summer Meals Program fed 41,676 children and served a total of 1,924,450 meals across the state.
"Today's event is also about the collective commitment it takes to build our children's successes. The Summer Meals program feeds bellies and minds together so our kids will be ready for action when it's time to go back to school. None of this could happen without the amazing partnerships that we see today between state and local governments, schools and non-profits like End Hunger CT!," Lucy Nolan, Executive Director of End Hunger CT, said.
The announcement was made at the Sunset Ridge School in East Hartford, a new summer meal site this year that serves about 60 children breakfast and lunch each day. In East Hartford as a whole, approximately 48,438 summer meals have been served so far in 2016.
"I am very pleased with the success of the Summer Meals Program in East Hartford. School lunches are a crucial part of good nutrition for many of our youngest residents, and this program ensures them access to healthy meals all year round," said Mayor Leclerc. "Studies have shown that proper nourishment and wholesome, fulfilling meals are essential to the growth and development of our young people. I am so grateful for this program, which alleviates the food insecurities that happen when the school year recesses for the summer."
"We are very proud to host 14 summer meal sites in East Hartford and to serve over 55,000 meals for the summer. When the academic school year ends, our kids needs don't end--I am very proud of our partnership with Sodexho, our town and a variety of other agencies to provide meals for kids and families in East Hartford," Superintendent Nathan Quesnel said.
Last summer, Connecticut ranked as one of five top-performing states in serving meals to children and teens during the summer, according to the Food Research & Action Center's (FRAC) Hunger Doesn't Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report, released in June.
Information on the Summer Meals Program can be obtained by visiting www.endhungerct.org/summer-meals.