Phila. kicks off Summer Meals Program
PHILADELPHIA - June 21, 2011 (WPVI) -- During the school year, thousands of Philadelphia children know they can count on a meal at school, but when school is out, many of these kids face increased risks for hunger.
The city is hoping to reduce that risk with their Summer Meals Program.
"No person, but certainly no child should ever be hungry in this country," said Mayor Michael Nutter.
Mayor Nutter and others kicked off the program Tuesday afternoon at City Hall, acknowledging that Philadelphia has one of the highest rates of hunger in the nation.
"We are standing right now in a congressional district where one in five people don't have enough money to put food on the table," said Carey Morgan, the Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger.
The Summer Meals Program offers more than 1,000 sites in the city that will serve food to children under the age of 18. Sites include the R.W. Brown Community Center on North 8th Street, where children can come to get a snack.
"I love the food that they give me here. I'm blessed to have the food that I have, and a roof over my head," said Deanna Long, a 7th grader at an area charter school.
There are no income requirements or registration to qualify and officials know that hunger can keep children from reaching their full potential.
"It keeps them from becoming the healthy and productive citizens that we want our children to become," said Morgan.
Wal-Mart announced its $220,000 donation to the program and its partnership with the Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
"This is just an extension of our five-year, $2 billion grant to give back to local areas as well as nationally," said Amy Corso, the Director of Operations for Wal-Mart.
Residents may call the city's 3-1-1 service for the Summer Meals site, closest to them.
"No child should have to worry about food insecurity this summer or at any other time; not here, not in Philadelphia, not in America. We can do better than that," said Mayor Nutter.
Philadelphia's Summer Meals Program began 35 years ago during the city's race riots of the 1970s. The idea was to provide youth with food and someplace to gather peacefully.
philadelphia, pennsylvania, local/state
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