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YMCA and other Wilkes-Barre sites to host summer meals

SUMMER HUNGER.jpg


WILKES-BARRE (WOLF) -- "For the summer meals, they're all prepared on these counter tops," said Kyle Kunard, Program Coordinator for the Food For Kids Program at CEO.

Starting Monday morning, the CEO/Weinberg Food Bank kitchen will be fired up, turning out thousands of free summer lunches to be packed into coolers and shipped to local parks.

"It does give you a good feeling, you're happy that they got food for the day," said Kunard.

The Center for Economic Opportunity/Weinberg Food bank helps supply the meals to several locations.

One of those locations is the Wilkes Barre YMCA.

"A lot of kids when they go home for the summer from school they don't get lunches or snacks, so we provide that for them, just to have good role models and have something to do all summer," said Lennae Thompson, Food and Fun Coordinator, Wilkes-Barre YMCA.

Weinberg says that for the city's school district, 98% of children qualify for free or reduced lunch.

"In terms of when someone's actually hungry, you think of a foreign country, not necessarily maybe your neighbor or a child that lives in your neighborhood or on your block," said Maya Napoliello, Monitoring Specialist Summer Lunch Program.

There's has an easy way for people to find out what summer lunch and snack sites are near them - by using their cell phone.

"All you have to do is text the word "FOOD" to 877-877.

You'll get a response asking to enter your city and state.

Enter that, and after a few seconds it will pull up a list of the closest summer meals near you with addresses, phone numbers, dates and times that they're open.

They've got seven set ups this summer just in Wilkes-Barre hoping to fill the gap for what they say is the most vulnerable time for childhood hunger.

"Any child, as long as they're 18 or younger can go and have a free lunch. There's no questions asked for them," said Napoliello.

The YMCA is an enrolled program - but you don't need to register for most other lunch locations.

There are several other ways to locate a participating summer meal site:

• Call the "211" phone number for the National call center.

• Call "1.866.3Hungry" or "1.877.8Hambre" to find the place and time of free meals.

•Log onto https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks for locations and times where free meals are to be served.

• Log onto http://www.rangeapp.org/ that is an app used to locate places and times where free meals are served.

For additional information on the Summer Food Service Program, visit PDE's website at www.education.pa.gov/sfsp or call 800-331-0129.

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