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Island Harvest Helps Feed Hungry Kids During Summer

Free lunch will be available for East End children at a number of sites, including some in Riverhead.

No child should ever have to go hungry.

That's the deeply held belief behind a program commenced with an eye toward bridging the gap for children who rely on free or reduced meal programs during the school year. This summer, Island Harvest is reaching out to provide over 20,000 free lunches to children who might otherwise go hungry.

Island Harvest is set to provide nutritious lunches and snacks for free for approximately 88,000 children across Long Island.

Under the Summer Food Service Program, children ages 18 years old and younger can access free supplemental meals and snacks provided by Island Harvest, Long Island’s largest hunger relief organization.

Local Island Harvest sponsored SFSP Sites on Long Island include the  the , the David W. Crohan Community Center in Flanders, the Shinnecock Education Family Preservation Center in Southampton and the in Bridgehampton.

"Hunger has become a year-round issue on Long Island and even though food may be plentiful for most of us during the summer, for many Long Islanders, including children, finding enough nutritious food is a daily struggle," said Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest. “Fortunately, through the Summer Food Service Program, children facing hunger can now have nutritious meals or snacks available at several locations in Nassau and Suffolk counties.”

The program, which kicked off July 2, is administered by the Food and Nutrition Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the New York State Department of Education.

Locally, USDA approved sponsors, including school districts, camps, local government agencies and nonprofit organizations, administer the program.

Statistics indicate that up to 89 percent of children that receive subsidized meals during the school year, go without food during the summer months when the program is not active.  

"Now that school has ended for the summer, many children will lose their one chance to have a balanced meal during the day," Dresner said. "Proper nutrition is essential to the growth and development of children and many of them, especially those in low-income spectrum, don’t always have access to good, wholesome food. The Summer Food Service Program helps bridge that gap.”

Nearly 300,000 Long Islanders, including over 110,000 children, are faced with an escalating hunger crisis, according to Island Harvest and Feeding America, a national hunger relief organization. Numbers are rising; approximately 70,000 individuals seek food assistance in Suffolk and Nassau Counties each week through soup kitchens, food pantries and other relief programs. 

For a complete list of Summer Food Service Program Sites on Long Island, go to islandharvest.org or call Bob King at Island Harvest 516-294-8528 ext. 126.

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