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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Massachusetts partners with local nonprofit to support Summer Eats program

Every year, the United States Department of Agriculture funds a nation-wide initiative, the Summer Eats program, which provides free meals to children 18 and under to supplement school lunches over summer vacation — no registration or ID needed. According to the Mass.gov website, many of the sites where meals are provided also include educational games or activities to encourage kids to exercise when school isn’t in session.  

In Boston, this program is administered by the Office of Food Justice, which partners with Boston Public Schools, the Greater Boston YMCA, and a local nonprofit called Project Bread — an organization “committed to making sure that people in Massachusetts can afford enough to eat because hunger is an injustice” — to promote and establish Summer Eats locations. Project Bread’s Summer Eats map lists only one Boston location, open Monday to Friday in Brighton, but the City of Boston’s website promises more locations are on the way. 

In a press release, Project Bread outlined their contribution to the effort: “For more than 20 years, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and statewide food security nonprofit Project Bread have partnered to support meal providers in offering Summer Eats meals to children in Massachusetts. … This year, Project Bread has granted a total of $226,000 to 51 Summer Eats sponsors for their program outreach and capacity-building.”  

The CEO of Project Bread, Erin McAleer, also emphasized in the press release, “In the summer, many families are forced to stretch exhausted grocery budgets even further. Summer Eats is such an important program because it helps close that gap.”  

With the help of other collaborators in Boston, including Boston schools and libraries, farmers markets, and community-based charitable organizations, Project Bread hopes that the Summer Eats program will also “bring the community together” and foster a love of healthy eating and outdoor activity in children. 

McAleer concluded, “Children should spend their summer playing, growing, and enjoying time with family and friends, not worrying about their next meal.” 

In addition to their work with the Summer Eats program, Project Bread is engaged in a variety of policy work at both the state and federal level, including the “Make Hunger History” initiative, an effort to “end hunger in Massachusetts once and for all.” The charity is also currently advocating for a Massachusetts bill to protect funding for public school lunches, and opposing a federal initiative that would cut $30 billion in funding for the SNAP program.  

Part of that effort to eliminate hunger in Massachusetts is their food resources and assistance page, which hosts information and guides on SNAP, WIC, Meals on Wheels, and other food assistance programs. For example, their eligibility page states that any student aged 18 to 49 and enrolled half-time or more is eligible for SNAP benefits, as long as they have been awarded work-study or work more than 20 hours a week, among other potential eligibility criteria.  

For a map of all Massachusetts Summer Eats locations, as well as tips for accessing SNAP and Summer EBT benefits, either head to Project Bread’s website or call their hotline at 1-800-645-8333. Counselors are available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

About the Contributors
Elijah Horwath, Managing Editor
Olivia Reid, Photo Editor