ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As the school year begins, summer meals programs for students have transitioned back to free breakfast and lunch in schools. But, what happens after-school?
Christina Dandino, director of the Greater Rochester After School and Summer Reliance Program (GRASSA), said in order for students to learn, having healthy, nutritious meals is essential.
“If it’s enrichment programming, STEM programming, if it’s learning during the school day, kids can’t focus on an empty stomach.”
Dandino said one of the best places for student to get both healthy snacks and dinner is through after school programs.
“They’re getting their meals, they’re in a safe place, there are staff that are vetted and have had background checks and all, and they’re developing their social and life skills.”
Dr. Mitch Gruber, Chief Programs Officer at Foodlink said in addition to after school programs, Rochester R-Centers are a great resource as well.
“They’re all serving after school meals on a regular basis, so I really encourage folks to look into after school opportunities, but of course know the recreation centers are there for you.”
Dandino said Rochester has the highest food insecurity rate in Upstate New York, so the programs and centers essential need.
“The food that is provided addresses a huge gap in our community for a lot of children who go home.”
Dr. Gruber encouraged any unregistered after school programs to reach out to Foodlink to receive meals for students.
“The federal government pays for it, and it’s our job as a community to make sure that it’s available to folks. Not just food, but high quality and nutritious food. We’re really grateful to be able to work on that.”
Dandino said If any after school program needs to go virtual throughout the year, they will still be able to receive meals for their students as well.