ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) —Summer Meals has kicked off again for the summer season but this year COVID-19 has brought some changes.
Leaders have found new ways for families to pick up healthy food.
Summer Meals is filling the gap left by the closure of traditional summer programming due to COVID-19.
“So many families and youth get their meals through those programs in the summer, breakfast lunch and dinner sometimes. And so, without those programs running, kids will be at home and won’t get the meals that way,” said Aaron Lattanzio, senior program manager at Causewave Community Partners.
The program is a partnership between the City of Rochester, the school district and Food Link, with free breakfast and lunch pick-ups at over 100 sites. This includes schools, churches, and recreational centers — like the Gantt Recreation Center on Norther st.
Last year, the program served nearly 4,000 children in Rochester a day, and families living here say it’s a great way to reach the those in need.
“Wonderful place, you know why? Because of the location. You got kids from different backgrounds, different ethnicity, schools, education, resources. This is the perfect place,” said James Neeley, Concord neighborhood.
“It’s a good things as long as we don’t misuse it, The thing about it let the kids enjoy themselves, its suppose to be from them anyway,” said Kenny, Rochester resident,” said Kenny, Rochester resident.
This year, children will no longer be required to eat the meals on site, as grab and go meals will be the new model to allow for social distancing.
Also, a new partnership with Regional Transit Service will allow vans to visit neighborhoods that do not have established summer meals sites.
“There’s lots of spots where we’ve always said, there’s a neighborhood there where there’s a lot of kids but we can’t really get there. There’s not a good site so we’ll try to find sites nearby. This is allowing us to really reach in and get to more families,” said Lattanzio.
Last year’s Summer Meals program served nearly 250,000 meals, they are planning to serve even more this summer. The program runs June 27 to August 26.