WXXI AM News

Meals on Wheels program aims to bridge summer hunger gap

Aug 1, 2017

It's summertime, and some kids don't want to go back to their neighborhood school, even if it means getting a free lunch.

"There's a little, 'Well, I'm out for summer, why should I be going into school again?',” said Terra Keller, chief operating officer at Foodlink, “so a program that puts it on wheels brings it right to them."

Credit Beth Adams/ WXXI News

The regional food hub is partnering with the Rochester School District to remove some of the barriers that keep families from taking advantage of free, federally-funded meals.

Summer Meals on Wheels started as a pilot program last year. This summer, a retrofitted truck brings lunch to five rotating sites - parks and libraries - each week day.  The sites were chosen in neighborhoods where the brick and mortar meal program at recreation centers, schools, or libraries, is at least a quarter mile away. 

"We're hoping, based on the numbers we get this year to show that this is a program that really does reach a number of children that weren't getting meals before,” Keller said, “so we can go back to some funders to raise some dollars to build this program even further for next year."

The Summer Meals on Wheels truck pulled into Conkey Corner Park late Tuesday morning as about six children lined up for a Mexican bean wrap with shredded lettuce, corn salad, milk, and an orange.

The program is open to any city of Rochester child 18 years and younger. Foodlink is reimbursed for the meals through a U.S. Department of Agriculture program. The truck, staff, and other materials are funded by a Rochester Area Community Foundation grant.