NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and a diverse group of partners kicked off the City’s free summer meals program at Israelite Baptist Church Children of Faith Summer Camp. This partnership with the New Orleans No Kid Hungry campaign, Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), Recovery School District (RSD), Algiers Charter Schools, Second Harvest Food Bank, the United Way, New Orleans Recreation Development Commission (NORDC) and Share Our Strength® will help connect more area kids and teens to free summer meal programs by raising awareness about the program and making it easier for families to get to a summer meals site. The meals program offers youth ages 5 – 18 free, nutritious meals – breakfast and lunch - at 40 sites throughout the city. The program runs Monday through Friday during June, July and August.
"A healthy diet is essential to our children’s development," said Mayor Landrieu. "This program will offer a balanced breakfast and lunch so our kids can get the nutrition they need to learn, play, and grow during the summer months. Too many of our kids are not getting the food they need to meet their potential. We must do better by them, and we will. That’s why we’ve made a concerted effort to increase the number of sites where meals are available this year.”
According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 32,000 public school students in New Orleans qualify for free and reduced lunch. Less than half of them are eating school breakfast and and less than 10% percent are participating in summer food programs.
Lack of awareness about the program, stigma, and getting kids to a reputable site that is near them are just a few of the barriers families face according to recent focus groups conducted by Share Our Strength.
“Summer meals programs are more important than ever before as families are struggling to make ends meet. Families also face the stress of providing safe, supervised and affordable places for kids and teens to socialize, play and continue to learn during the summer,” said Rosie Jackson of OPSB.
Many summer meals sites registered with the USDA offer fun learning and recreational activities so kids and teens can eat a healthy meal while staying active. Program details:
o Meals are FREE to kids ages 18 and younger
o Food served follows USDA nutrition guidelines and is paid for by the USDA
o Summer meals sites are at schools, churches and community organizations
o Parents do not need to apply for their kids to participate in the program
o Kids do not have to attend the school to participate in the summer meals program.
"Our goal is to increase the number of children participating in the summer meals program 15 percent of eligible kids which means we will serve 5,000 meals per day," said Rhonda M. Jackson, New Orleans No Kid Hungry Director. “We're working hard to get these kids to the table. We are confident that with our partners, we can serve significantly more children than last summer. "
The New Orleans No Kid Hungry campaign is generously sponsored by supporters the City of New Orleans through Edward Wisner Donation funds and Yum-o! The New Orleans No Kid Hungry campaign efforts are part of Share Our Strength's national No Kid Hungry campaign. Share Our Strength’s national No Kid Hungry efforts are supported by Share Our Strength core partners ConAgra Foods Foundation, Food Network and Walmart. Visit www.Strength.org to learn more about Share Our Strength and http://NoKidHungry.org/NewOrleans to learn more about the New Orleans No Kid Hungry campaign.
Families can learn more or find a site near them by going to www.vialink.org or this interactive map or call 2-1-1 or they can text “NOLAfood” to 877-877 find a site near them.