The free summer meals program started in Manchester on Friday, the first day of summer vacation. The program offers free breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner for any child 18 years old and under when school’s out. Other communities, including Berlin and Nashua, will begin the program when their school years end.
Valerie Carignan, the Food and Nutrition Director at Southern New Hampshire Services, a non-profit running some of the sites, says the program abides by USDA standards to guarantee kids get a nutritious meal.
“It might be the only meal that they get in the day,” said Carignan. “If we know that they’re eating with us, they’re getting some type of nourishment throughout that day.”
The program typically feeds around 350,000 kids during the summer, according to officials at the Department of Education.
Cheri White, the Coordinator for Nutrition Program & Services at the Department of Education, says the summer meals program is doubling as a venue to ward off the “summer slide,” or learning loss when school is not in session.
“A lot of our sites have an educational component to them,” said White. “For example today, we’re handing out books. Activity sheets to the kids that are here.”
Click here to see if there is a site in your neighborhood.