Three years of a coordinated, communitywide effort to get more youth in the city of Rochester to participate in free summer meals paid off with a 24.3 percent increase in meals served in 2015. While participation increased, there are still more than 13,000 youth who receive meals during the school year who did not access free summer meals.
In 2016, the Summer Meals Partnership of Rochester is using an innovative food truck model to build off the previous years successes and reach youth who are not currently participating in Summer Meals.
“In a community where 52.5 percent of children live in poverty, our goals are that no child goes hungry during the summer when free meals are available and that all kids and families see summer meals as a regular part of their summer,” said Mairéad Hartmann, co-chair of the Summer Meals Partnership of Rochester. “The partners in this collaboration are excited about the progress that has been made and we hope even more children will take advantage of free meals this summer.”
To reach youth who are not already accessing summer meals, the Summer Meals Partnership, a collaboration between the City of Rochester, Foodlink, Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, Rochester Area Community Foundation, Rochester City School District, and other partners is introducing a mobile Summer Meals program in the City of Rochester. A feasibility study commissioned by the Community Foundation and carried out by the Center for Governmental Research identified specific locations where fixed sites don’t currently meet the need in neighborhoods. The partners embraced the report’s findings by making plans to implement a pilot version of mobile meals in targeted areas this summer. To view the full report and summary visit http://www.summermealsroc.org/s/CGR-Mobile-Summer-Meals-Study-2016.pdf
This summer the Rochester City School District and Foodlink will use existing resources to test Summer Meals Food Trucks at four locations throughout the city.
Meals will be offered at the following locations as a part of the mobile meals pilot:
- Lyell Library, 6/27-9/2 from 12:00-12:30 PM
- Lincoln Library, 6/27-8/27 from 1:00-1:30 PM
- Don Samuel Torres Park, 7/5-8/19 from 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
- Enrico Fermi School 17 Playground, 7/5-8/19 from 12:30-1:30 PM
To make it easier for community members to locate meals, the partnership launched a new website that shares location and meal times throughout the city. The mobile friendly site, www.SummerMealsRoc.org, includes an interactive map and site list for families to find meal locations in their neighborhood, a sample menu, additional details on the program and promotional materials that can be downloaded and shared.
In 2015, from the last week in June through the last Friday in August, 412,183 free meals were served, up from 331,680 meals in 2014. In July alone, the average daily participation for lunch increased by 39 percent over summer 2014, according to data tracked by the New York State Education Department.
Several aspects of the summer meals distribution changed last year, which organizers believe contributed to the impressive boost in participation:
- Sponsors worked collaboratively to identify systematic changes in delivery and meal service to improve efficiency and access for youth.
- The City School District offered an increased number of summer learning opportunities for its students and ensured that breakfast and lunch aligned well with busing schedules.
- Sponsors started recruitment earlier, which led to an increased number of participating programs.
- A summer meals coordinator visited sites regularly to talk with staff about improvements that could be made, provide support and information, and conduct surveys and collect data throughout the summer.
Summer Meals are designed to provide food to youth when the regular school year is not in session. All children 18 and younger can receive a meal by simply dropping in to one of our publicly open sites.
Rochester residents can find a list of meal locations in their neighborhood and more details on free Summer Meals for children 18 and younger at www.SummerMealsRoc.org or by dialing 2-1-1.