The Food Bank of South Jersey will kick off its annual Summer Meals Program later this month with the goal of feeding thousands of children who benefit from reduced-price lunch programs during the school year.
Nearly 430,000 students in the state receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year through the National School Lunch Program, but less than 20 percent of them were able to get nutritious meals during the summer of 2016, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.
“An intrinsic part of our mission is ensuring that no child is going home hungry at any time of the year,” said Val Traore, president and CEO of the food bank. “We recognize that when the bell sounds to dismiss school, and those children who rely on free or reduced school meal programs are left without these critical resources, that signals our cue to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
The Pennsauken-based food bank will operate 168 locations in South Jersey, including 27 in Burlington County, where children can get free breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks through Sept. 1.
The nonprofit hopes to serve 8,000 children this summer.
Open sites will serve anyone under age 18. Burlington County’s open sites will be the Abundant Life Fellowship Church, Route 130 in Edgewater Park; the Apartments at the Mills on Mitchell Avenue in Burlington City; and the Eastampton Town Center on Sawyer Avenue.
Distribution will begin later this month after most schools have let out for the summer.
Separately, closed sites will serve children attending day camps, summer schools or community or church programs. Children must be enrolled with the on-site program to receive meals. Some closed sites will begin serving meals Monday, including Heavens Nest Learning Center in Burlington Township, Rising Stars Learning Center in Willingboro, and On the Wings of Love Christian Academy in Florence.
Service times vary depending on the site, but typically breakfast is served between 9 and 10 a.m. and lunch between noon and 1 p.m.
Patrons can download the food bank’s mobile app on their smartphones by searching “Food Bank of South Jersey” in app stores to view a complete list of site locations as well as contact information.
The food bank is seeking volunteers to help distribute food for the program. For more information, contact Gerald Tieyah, volunteer services manager, at email@example.com or 856-662-4884, ext. 160.
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Danielle DeSisto: 609-871-8050; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @DeSistoBCT