Free summer meals programs expand

By Elaine Ezerins

Staff Writer

The Facts

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ST. ALBANS — This summer, 24,000 free lunches were served to children in Franklin County at 28 summer meals sites, 16 of which were open anyone under age 8, according to Child Nutrition Consultant Jaime Curly at the Agency of Education.


While summer meals programs continue to here, Grand Isle County remains underserved.


Curly and others involved in summer meals programming debriefed the challenges and successes of the past couple months at the first Hunger Council meeting since taking a break for the summer.


“One of the greatest parts of the summer meals program is the open summer meals sites,” Curly said. “Any kid, 18 and under, can come get a meal, absolutely no questions asked. They could be from Canada and we don’t care. They’re just going there to get a meal. They’re a child; they’re eating.”


Curly said people battling food insecurity often talk about the barriers in their work. “We talk about stigma and that is just the greatest way to get rid of those off the bat,” she said. “Everyone eat[s] together regardless of their economic status.”


The state encourages the creation of open sites because they are the “gold star” of summer meal programs, according to Curly.


The eight closed sites only provide meals to the children attending programs at those locations.


This summer, Curly said Grand Isle County only had one summer meal site. “I know it is a geographically challenging county,” she said, but thought the Hunger Council could brainstorm about different places and players that might be able to help expand programming there.

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