Many are unaware that the federal free meal program that feeds kids throughout the school year extends through the dog days of summer. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, families can spend up to an additional $300 a month to feed children when school is out, so Newark is kicking off high-profile events to let parents know there’s help available to stretch their budget.
“To get the summer meals, you don’t need any paperwork, you don’t need any documentation, you don’t have to sign up. All you have to be is under 18 and show up and you can get a good nutritious meal for free,” said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America.
But the city says the biggest obstacle is simply educating families these meals exist. According to Hunger Free New Jersey, the state served 3 million meals last July — that’s about 103,000 a day — and received $12.7 million in federal funding to pay for the free meal programs.
There are over 160 sites throughout Newark to pick up a summer meal — schools, pools, community centers, public libraries. Families can text the words “summer meals” to 97779 to find a Summer Food Service Program location.