It’s time for summer, when Rochester children will be busy with sports and activities, summer classes, camps or just spending time at their neighborhood R-Center.
The challenge for thousands of local families, however, is ensuring their children have convenient access to nutritious meals.
“With the conclusion of the school year, many children face a gap in receiving regular, balanced meals, which are a fundamental necessity for every child’s growth, well-being, and academic success,” said Dr. Carmine Peluso, Superintendent of the RCSD. “I encourage our families to take advantage of this invaluable resource in our city and join us in ensuring that all Rochester children have access to free, healthy meals during the summer months.”
>>> Find a meal site at: SummerMealsROC.org
Every year, the Rochester Summer Meals program fills an important gap in providing children and teens (18 & under) with access to free and healthy breakfasts and lunches at locations all across the city. Meals can be found at schools, churches, R-Centers and other community-based sites that kids visit throughout the summer. Even if a child is not participating in a specific program, there are numerous locations they can visit during scheduled times to get a free meal while at the site.
“Access to healthy food is a primary concern for my Administration, and making sure children are properly fed over the summer months is a critical part of that equation,” said Mayor Malik D. Evans “I am proud to be a member of Summer Meals Partnership of Rochester and grateful that our fellow partners share our commitment to providing children with access to free and nutritious food all year round. This collaborative effort to close the gaps in summer health and learning advances our vision to create a safe, equitable and healthy Rochester by inspiring hope and delivering opportunity for everyone.”
Foodlink, the City of Rochester and the Rochester City School District collaborate with community partners such as Common Ground Health and Rochester Area Community Foundation to organize and promote Summer Meals each year. The Foodlink Community Kitchen and the Rochester City School District prepare and deliver meals to dozens of sites at designated times.
“This program is designed to ensure Rochester families don’t have to choose between paying bills or putting food on the table. Our goal is to make it easy to find — and pick up — free, healthy meals at locations in city neighborhoods and at R-Centers throughout the summer,” said Simeon Banister, president and CEO of Rochester Area Community Foundation.
To help increase healthy food access in Rochester, Foodlink also received American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding through Monroe County to run its popular “mobile meals” initiative for another summer. This option abides by a different set of meal regulations. For example, the meals are available for kids and adults, and meals can be picked up and taken home, rather than consumed on-site. Foodlink’s mobile meals vehicles will circle select neighborhoods that lack access to traditional summer meals sites and provide free meals all summer long, with more information available at FoodlinkNY.org/FindFood.
“We were thrilled to receive additional funding to continue our mobile meals initiative, which aims to provide an extra 15,000 meals to Rochester families this summer,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink. “Our mobile routes will complement dozens of established Summer Meals sites across Rochester, meaning children will never have to go far to receive a free, healthy meal.”
Last year’s Summer Meals program served nearly 290,000 meals – with an average daily participation rate of more than 5,400 children.
“Ensuring every child in the City of Rochester has access to healthy and flavorful meals all year long is our end goal, but we know that safe spaces to get those meals and quality programming on site are just as important to parents,” said Dina Faticone, Chief Program Officer of Common Ground Health and Co-Chair of the Summer Meals Partnership of Rochester. “I’m proud of the way the partnership has embraced that challenge over the years and worked collaboratively to deliver all three to families at a time when they need it most.”
Parents can call 2-1-1 or visit www.SummerMealsRoc.org to learn more about 2023 Summer Meals sites in their neighborhood. The program is set to run through August 25 with meals offered Monday through Friday.