Allentown Mayor Ray O’Connell today announced the opening of five new “OPEN” sites in the city which will offer free summer meals for youth age 18 and under through the federal nutrition program.
The mayor made the announcement at a noon news conference at Cedar Beach Park where hundreds of city children were enjoying a free lunch as part of the third annual Cedar Sports Day.
The news conference was attended by Allentown Health Bureau Nutrition & Physical Activity Manager Tina Amato; ASD Child Nutrition Services Director Ellen O'Brien; Director of Health Advocacy & Policy, Department of Community Health, Lehigh Valley Health Network Cathy Coyne; Director of Pathway Development Greater Valley YMCA Maribel Tandazo; Coordinator Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council, Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley Susan Dalandan and City Councilmembers Daryl Hendricks and Cynthia Mota.
Allentown Public Library, Lehigh Valley Hospital-17th St, Greater Valley YMCA Allentown, Alliance Hall of Allentown, and Mosser Village Family Center have stepped-up as new “open” sites to offer meals to youth.
“One thing we know for sure is that hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation,” said O’Connell. “With all Allentown School District students qualifying for free and reduced school meals and with significant levels of food insecurity in many Allentown families, many of our kids could benefit from a free lunch meal during the summer. Our 105 year-old playground program has offered meals through the federal program for many years as have a number of camps and recreation programs across the city. This is a wonderful addition.”
The library, Lehigh Valley Hospital and YMCA sites are already open. The Alliance Hall site opens on Monday, July 2 and the Mosser Village site opens Monday, July 9.
O’Connell credited the Allentown Health Bureau and the Department of Parks & Recreation, the Allentown School District, Lehigh Valley Children’s Centers, Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council and many community partners who have worked hard as sponsors of federal meals, or as feeding sites. “Good things happen when as a community, we can come together for a common purpose.”