All kids in Pennsylvania qualify for this free food program while school’s out

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By Ashley Adams

June 17, 2024

There are summer meal programs offered throughout Pennsylvania to feed kids while school is out, thanks to the state’s participation in a federal program.

For about 350 children in the Norristown and Pottstown areas, the free meals they receive from the YWCA Tri-County Area’s summer meal program may be the only thing keeping them from going hungry.

“Our program really helps those families who normally count on their school district’s free breakfast and lunch programs,” said Sara Anderson, the YWCA Tri-County Area’s director of culinary services. 

The summer meal program was started in 2021 and is part of the US Department of Agriculture’s Summer Meals for Kids program, or SUN Meals, which is open to all children ages 18 and under regardless of income. States must choose to participate, and Pennsylvania has opted in.

“This program helps us feed children who might be nutritionally deficient or who may not have healthy food options at home,” said Mandy Minnella, marketing and communications coordinator at the River Valley Regional YMCA in Towanda.

That program serves meals to 294 children at five different locations. And while any kids in Pennsylvania can get food through the SUN Meals program, those who are already enrolled in the Y’s summer camps have it built into the programming.

“It allows us to offer two meals a day to students enrolled in summer camps,” said Anderson, at the Tri-County YWCA. “We pride ourselves on offering a very kid-friendly menu that still meets the nutrition guidelines of the program.”

To find a program near you, click here. Programs are usually sponsored at a local school or community center, and any kid can go to one no matter where they’re from. Programs offer meals on-site or to go, or both. The map of sites linked above will specify which option they provide.

The USDA also runs the Summer EBT program, or SUN Bucks, which is modeled after a pandemic program that helped families pay for meals using an EBT card. Summer EBT provides families with a prepaid debit card if they qualify for free and reduced-price lunch during the school year. Click here to find out if you are eligible.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

CATEGORIES: EDUCATION
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