The Summer Meals Roc expects to give out about 5,000 free cold meals every day this summer to kids under 18 in the city of Rochester, no questions asked. That adds up to more than 300,000 meals between now and September.
“(There are) roughly 21 or 22,000 students who do access their meals through school if you think about the summer months; that becomes potentially a burden for families,” said Aaron Lattanzio who coordinates the program.
It takes a group effort, including the city of Rochester, the city school district, Foodlink, the Community Foundation, and Common Ground Health. The US Department of Agriculture and State Education Department pay much of the cost.
“Since 2012 we’ve really been working as a table, a partnership that meets throughout the year. And (we) do planning all year round in order to be ready for the summer,” Lattanzio said
These meals are served at schools, rec centers, churches, and even a theater on Avenue D. Lattanzio said they are instrumental to stopping what’s known as “the summer slide.” That’s what the Department of Agriculture and other experts call student learning loss during the summer months. The Department of Agriculture says the lack of proper nutrition could be as damaging to a child’s development as a summer without reading or learning. The meals are basic and well rounded often including sandwiches, salads, fruit and milk.
“Making sure kids have the healthy meals that they need to ensure that they’re retaining their learning and that they’re more ready to go when the school year is up again,” said Lattanzio.
Lattanzio said anyone who needs to get a child a meal can find locations by calling 211. You can also find the locations on the list below: