Mayor Ray O’Connell today announced a nearly 800% increase in the city of Allentown’s free summer meals program drop-in locations for youth age 18 and under!
The announcement was made at an 11:30am news conference at Mack Pool, one of the new sites where hundreds of city children can enjoy a meal. Twenty city schools and St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus have also newly joined the program along with Hibernia Fire Station, the location for the city’s Firehouse Fridays program during the school year.
Allentown Public Library, Lehigh Valley Hospital-17th St, Greater Valley YMCA Allentown offered meals to youth in 2018 and are again part of the program.
The news conference was attended by Allentown City Councilperson Daryl Hendricks, Allentown Health Bureau Nutrition & Physical Activity Manager Tina Amato; ASD Child Nutrition Services Director Patrick McCarty; St. Luke’s Sacred Heart Campus President Frank Ford; and Greater Valley YMCA Director of Pathway Development Maribel Tandazo.
According to O”Connell, “Only about 8% of eligible children receive summer meals. We have a statewide goal to increase participation in these meal programs to 20%. In Allentown, we are making these meals easier to access and encouraging families and kids who struggle with food dollars and food insecurity to come to a meal site close to you for a free meal.”
“St. Luke’s Sacred Heart is fully invested in the city of Allentown,” said Ford. “Providing access to nutritious lunches is something we can do to help make sure kids in our community enjoy a happy and healthy summer.”
“The Allentown School District (ASD) is committed to collaborating meaningfully and deeply with the community - the expansion to the summer food service program over the last two summers in an excellent example of that commitment and collaborative partnership that benefits children all over Allentown,” said Patrick McCarty, Director of Child Nutrition Services for the Allentown School District. “ASD is working to cultivate a culture where students feel safe, valued and nurtured year-round, and that means our work doesn’t stop when school is out.”
O’Connell acknowledged other partners in the effort to come to the aid of city children, including: The Bureau of Health and the Department of Parks & Recreation, the Fire Department and Local 302 of the IAFF, the Allentown Library, Lehigh Valley Hospital and Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council.
Allentown’s 106-year-old playground program has offered meals through the federal program for many years as have a number of camps and recreation programs across the city.