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Hartford Delivers Summer Meals to Kids in Libraries

Lucy Nalpathanchil

All children look forward to summer vacation, but when they're not in class, some of these kids also miss out on free meals and snacks. To feed more children, Hartford Public Schools has expanded its summer food program to libraries.

Families have an additional $300 a month in extra costs during the summer because kids aren't eating at school.

Lonnie Burt, Food Service Director for Hartford Public Schools, said, "During the school year we probably serve about 20,000 lunches a day. At the height of the summer program, we serve about 5,000. We would like to see those numbers go up, because we do know there's a need."

To feed more children, the school district now delivers meals to the city's ten public library branches.

The library branch on Barbour Street is one of the new locations. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy visited the site and helped serve sandwiches, fruit and cookies to about a dozen children. He told them about his job while passing around food and asked them if they liked some chickpeas.

Credit Lucy Nalpathanchil / WNPR
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy talks with kids who came to the summer lunch program at the Barbour Street library branch.

Murphy is among members of Congress who are supporting the bi-partisan Summer Meals Act of 2014. It calls for expanding access to the federal Summer Meals program by increasing the number of eligible communities, providing funding for mobile meal trucks, and allowing sites to serve three meals and a snack when schools are closed. 

Lucy Nolan, the Executive Director of End Hunger Connecticut said that can make a big difference to families in need. "Families have an additional $300 a month in extra costs during the summer," she said, "Kids aren't eating at school, so their grocery bills go up $300 a month. That's pretty significant."

Lonnie Burt,  with Hartford Public Schools, said the summer meals program at Hartford library branches are reaching 300 children a day, and they hope to serve more. She said no registration is required -- kids can just show up.

Statewide, there are 400 locations that serve summer meals to youth 18 years old and under. Residents can find a location near them by calling 211 or texting CT MEALS to 877-877.

Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.

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