Saturday, July 9, 2016

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Beacon kids treated to summer lunch program

BEACON – Community members, local sponsors and local children came out to Tompkins Terrace in Beacon Friday afternoon, for the launch of the Dutchess County Food Service Program – Bridging the Gap to Help Kick-Out Summer Hunger.

Organizers launched the program's sixth year on Friday

This is the sixth year the program has been held in Beacon and it is part of a federally funded, regional summer food service initiative to help children who rely on free, or discounted, lunch during the school year. Many of the kids who receive meals during the school year have no means for proper nutrition once schools close for vacation. In light of this, municipalities, school districts and non-profits throughout the county have partnered together, having sponsors facilitating free lunch and activities for children in need at various locations.

At Friday’s kickoff in Beacon, approximately 10 stations were set up for children to visit. Children participated in gardening activities, were given the opportunity to try organic, fresh foods they may not have had the ability to try before, participated in physical activities, played games and were provided a free nutritious lunch.

Eat Smart New York representative Shayna Russo said because the initiative is federally funded, a myriad of non-profits are facilitating the food services efforts at the various locations; so, showing up is the only thing those looking to take advantage of the program need to do.

“Based on the needs in the community, there are what are called sponsors that can apply to be a part of the program through New York State, as in this case the New York State Education Department, and they don’t have to be a school, they can be a faith-based group and they can provide meals to the youth,” said Russo.   “The big thing with the Summer Food Service Program is there is no documentation required on the family’s part, on the youth’s part; they just really have to be 18 years, and younger, and they just need to show up and eat the meal there. So, there’s not much that needs to be done from the community perspective except to celebrate and spread the word.”

Dutchess areas that will be providing free lunch under the Summer Food Service Program Monday through Friday, including breakfast in participating locations, are: the City of Poughkeepsie, Dover, Amenia, Wappingers and Beacon.

Poughkeepsie will be celebrating its launch July 15th at Pulaski Pool.

Since this is a regional effort, other areas outside of Dutchess County will also be participating in the program. Information on other regionally participating locations can be found on the Eat Smart New York Hudson Valley website.


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