PHILADELPHIA — The City of Philadelphia and partners celebrated the launch of a citywide Philly Summer Meals program for children and teens today at Lawncrest Recreation Center. The kick-off event featured an afternoon of music, food, and activities for children and families. Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Deputy Commissioner Orlando Rendon, former Eagles player Jason Avant, and representatives from Summer Meals partner agencies participated in the celebration.
The Philly Summer Meals program ensures that children and teenagers can access affordable and nutritious food during the summer months when school meals are unavailable. As of this week, there are over 700 sites across the city serving free summer meals.
“Thousands of students rely on school meals for nutrition during the school year, and this vital program helps us cover the summer gap,” said Mayor Kenney. “Providing these meals for kids means we can ensure they are healthy and growing all year long. When children participate in the summer meals program, we can nourish their growth and connect them to summer activities that will feed their minds as well. I’m grateful to all the partners and volunteers who have rallied around our city’s children to make sure they have a great summer.”
Summer meal sites include day camps, playgrounds, parks, recreation centers, community centers, and all Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) Playstreets. PPR and Nutritional Development Services are two sponsors of Philadelphia’s meal sites, which are federally funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
“Parks & Recreation is a proud partner of the Philly Summer Meals program. Our department serves thousands of free nutritious meals to young people every summer through our day camps, theme camps, and the Playstreets program, ” said Orlando Rendon, First Deputy Commissioner for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. “We understand the incredible impact a nutritious meal can have on the physical and mental development of a young person. Also, when we provide young people with a free meal we are lifting a tremendous burden off the shoulders of parents who may be struggling to provide steady nutritious meals to their children.”
“Nourishing meals play a significant role in children’s physical ability to recharge, grow, learn and play,” said Brooke Mullen, Assistant Director of Community Relations for Nutritional Development Services. “As a sponsor of the program for over 45 years, we are thankful for the continued availability of the USDA Summer Meals Program to provide children healthy meals from June to August, a time when many children experience food insecurity in our area. We are grateful for collaborative efforts across the city to spread the word about the availability of nourishing meals for children, the future of our city. We look forward to another successful summer!”
To find a participating Summer Meals location, families can:
- Call the toll-free Philly Summer Meals Hotline: 1-855-252-MEAL (6325)
- Text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877877
- Visit www.phillysummermeals.org and use the interactive map
“Summer meals not only provide kids with the nutrition they need, but they help families make ends meet. In a city where we know many parents – and grandparents – must stretch family budgets to provide for their children, summer meals are a tremendous help,” said Kathy Fisher, Policy Director, Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger.
Today’s event highlighted the importance of children’s nutrition and physical activity. With support from Fuel Up to Play 60, former Eagles player Jason Avant led games with children from the Lawncrest Recreation Center summer camp and nearby summer programs. A Pennsylvania dairy farmer was also on hand to represent the American Dairy Association North East, which supports Summer Meals.
“Dairy farmers work hard to produce nutritious milk for their communities,” said Casandra Blickley, dairy herdsman and calf manager at Kurtland Farms in Elverson, Pennsylvania. “We are proud to support programs, like Free Summer Meals, that provide more kids access to healthy meals, including milk, all year round.”