Fewer locations, but more free summer meals

July 6, 2011 3:30:05 PM PDT
New York City is cutting back the locations serving meals to children this summer.

Last summer the city served about 7 million free meals, and this year the goal is even more.

JoAnna Lopez loves the city's free meal program, and she's well aware that things have been reorganized this year.

Some food sites have closed and other new ones have opened.

"It's an inconvenience that they are closing some sites, because people have to relocate to other sites, it's and inconvenience, then some people don't know where the other sites are," Lopez said.

City officials announced a new outreach program Wednesday morning to let people know where to go.

The reorganization means 37 fewer food sites this summer, and will save the city about $11 million but don't call that a cutback.

"I didn't approve a cutback, where did you hear me say I approve of cutbacks, no my goal is to make sure we're feeding more students," NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said.

City officials say they closed sites where there weren't that many kids. This summer they've added new sites, extended the program until September 2nd, and two mobile trucks will give out free meals at places like Orchard Beach.

"This is a positive thing in making sure we're getting more children fed over the summer both breakfast and lunch," Walcott said.

It's too early to tell whether the city's reorganization and outreach effort will actually boost the number of kids getting free meals, but there are plenty of people who hope the city is wildly successful this summer.

"Hunger is definitely getting worse for children in New York City, even before the recession, one in five New York City children lived in homes that couldn't afford enough food," said Joel Berg, of the NY Coalition Against Hunger.

For more information on the free breakfast and lunch program visit: http://www.opt-osfns.org/osfns/