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From Food Trucks to Text Messages – Fighting Hunger in New York City

Northeast Regional Administrator, James Arena-DeRosa serves a meal from the NYC food truck at Orchard Beach in the Bronx.

Northeast Regional Administrator, James Arena-DeRosa serves a meal from the NYC food truck at Orchard Beach in the Bronx.

For most children, summertime means school vacation, family trips and beach days, but for many, it also means losing the two free or reduced-price meals provided at school.

The New York City Department of Education SchoolFood program is working with USDA’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to fill that nutrition gap and taking aggressive steps to ensure that no child goes hungry this summer.

One of the most successful initiatives was the launch of three food trucks. Averaging between 550 and 950 meals a day per truck, they have been able to serve over 17,000 meals to children so far this summer. In addition, there are 362 open service sites throughout the city, which provide free meals to children on a first-come, first-serve basis in communities where 50 percent or more children are eligible for free or reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program.

Leading up to the beginning of the Summer Food Service season, the program distributed 1.2 million post cards, 140,000 flyers and 2,000 posters in low participation areas. The program also provides information via phone calls and texts to individuals seeking information about summer feeding sites.

Press conference held at the Orchard Beach food truck summer meal site. From left to right, New York City Mayor’s Food Policy Coordinator Kim Kessler, New York City Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Wolcott, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Northeast Regional Administrator James Arena-DeRosa, Chief Executive New York City Department of Education School Support, Representative C37 Union Eric Goldstein, New York City Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm.

Press conference held at the Orchard Beach food truck summer meal site. From left to right, New York City Mayor’s Food Policy Coordinator Kim Kessler, New York City Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Wolcott, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Northeast Regional Administrator James Arena-DeRosa, Chief Executive New York City Department of Education School Support, Representative C37 Union Eric Goldstein, New York City Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm.

New York City Chancellor of Education Dennis Walcott, Food and Nutrition Service Regional Administrator James Arena-DeRosa, the New York City Mayor’s Food Policy Coordinator Kim Kessler, and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry New York Director Megan Cryan recently hosted a press conference to highlight the success of the New York City Summer Food Service Program and the impact the program is having in reducing hunger during the summer months. After the press conference, a few of these representatives had the opportunity to serve meals from one of the program food trucks.

Arena-DeRosa gave the SFSP Campaign in New York City high praise.

“The reason their campaign is so successful is because they looked at the program from a different angle and decided to go to where the kids are instead of have the kids come to them,” said Arena-DeRosa. “Through this strong partnership, they have been able to get the word out in the communities and reduce hunger during the summer months.”

For more information, check out New York City’s Department of Education Website or dial 3-1-1 when in New York City.

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