Free meals provided for children this summer across western Massachusetts

School's out for the summer, but the need to feed hundreds of hungry children in Springfield never ceases.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – School’s out for the summer, but the need to feed hundreds of hungry children in Springfield never ceases.

“It’s not a specific need just for even urban environments. There is a need across our country to feed children during the summer because they become dependent upon meals during the school year: breakfast, lunch…” said Mark Jeffrey, the District Manager for Sodexo.

Starting June 27, and running through August 23, Springfield Public Schools will be set up in 50 locations this summer, offering free lunches to any child ages 1 through 18, no questions asked. Children are, however, required to eat the meals at the locations.

“The goal is to have organized activities at these sites and get the word out as much as possible so that we do have the participation at these sites and local so people can walk to the sites,” Director of Wellness and Student Engagement for Springfield Public Schools Lynne Conca told 22News.

Several schools across the district will be offering free breakfast and lunch to students attending enrichment programs. Those are considered closed sites, but Central High School is considered an open site.

Children can get a free lunch between 11:30AM and 1:00PM each weekday. Tim Gray, Food Service Administrator for Springfield Public Schools, told 22News they try to prevent food waste. He said, “We can bring in food from another site. That’s not an issue, but as the summer goes on and we get used to the number of children that are each location, we narrow down what we need to have on hand.”

The program is operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or USDA. That means you, the taxpayer, provide this program to communities through your federal tax dollars. Several cities offer similar programs. You can find out more information about the program in Springfield here. For more information on programs in other cities, click here.

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