Jersey City’s annual Summer Food Service Program returned this week to help feed children who lack access to reliable sources of healthy food while school is closed for the summer.
The Summer Food Service Program provides nutritious meals to more than 3,000 children citywide.
“Now more than ever, our families need assistance to help put food on their tables, and this year’s Summer Food Program will expand upon the food services the city has been providing to meet the exponential increase in demands for food assistance,” said Mayor Steven Fulop.
“It’s critical for us to provide much needed nutrition to some of our most underserved populations who struggle with healthy food access, especially now in the wake of this health and economic crisis.”
Starting Monday, June 29 through Friday, August 21, breakfasts and lunches will be available to all of Jersey City’s youth, 18 years old and under at various secured sites throughout the city.
No hoops to jump through
There is no application process, and families can simply show up at a designated site to pick up the healthy meals on any weekday.
Local meal pickup locations are listed online at https://tinyurl.com/SFSPJC. According to the website, there are 95 meal pickup locations.
Jersey City residents can also call the National Hunger Hotline at 866-3-HUNGRY (866-348-6479) or text “Summer Meals” to 97779 for closest sites and additional information.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 11 million children live in “food insecure” households throughout the United States. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally-funded, state-administered program being served up locally by Jersey City’s Department of Health and Human Services.
SFSP provides all children with the same free meal in accordance with a menu approved by the state.
“The summer months are especially difficult for children and teens who are food insecure as they no longer have their schools to rely on,” said Stacey Flanagan, director of the Jersey City Health and Human Services Department.
“We provide food to our low-income households year-round, and while summertime is traditionally the most difficult in low-income areas, this year we are seeing a much greater need for food and other critical services amid this health and economic crisis.”
During at home remote learning, which was caused by school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the district provided free to go breakfasts and lunches to children under the age of 18 at roughly 20 locations throughout the city regardless of what school they attended.
According to Superintendent of the Jersey City Public Schools Franklin Walker roughly 78 percent of the district’s approximately 30,000 students are economically challenges and qualify for free and reduced lunches.