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Summer Fun and Summer Meals

The beginning of summer brings familiar traditions for families – spending time outside, visiting the beach, and enjoying time off from school. However, for too many children, summer also means weeks without access to regular, healthy meals. While free, nutritious summer meals are available to school-age children nationwide, few families use this valuable resource.

In Jersey City, the Department of Health & Human Services works with the Recreation Department and local non-profits to distribute summer meals in July and August. To kick off the season and educate the community about the availability of free, healthy summer meals, the City joined with Congressman Donald Payne Jr. and Wellcare Health to host a summer resource fair on July 12.

The Family Fun Day event featured tables from various organizations, but was especially focused on healthy food access. Locally-grown produce was given away, and families were given information on how to sign up for summer meals, SNAP, WIC, and childcare assistance programs.

The HHS table was stocked with food & nutrition information, plus free smoothies for anyone willing to take a spin on the smoothie bike! The theme connecting the partners at Family Fun Day was healthy summer eating.

In addition to local partners, Jersey City was joined by Hunger Free America, a national non-profit, and a team of AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers. Together, they canvassed in the heart of one of the City’s most underserved neighborhoods, to raise awareness about summer meals and to encourage local nonprofits to become summer meal sites.

It is through partnerships that the City can build awareness of the resources available to residents, especially children. This year’s summer meal enrollment rate will let us know if our efforts have been successful, and we will use enrollment data to focus our resources in future summer seasons to create a #HealthierJC.

HHS Director Stacey Flanagan, Hunger Free America CEO Joel Berg, and a team of AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers get ready to canvass the Ward F neighborhood

About the Grantee

Jersey City Department of Health

The Jersey City Department of Health and Human Services is a public agency that strives to build a culture of health. Through the department’s nine divisions, this multi-purpose public health agency provides services is driven by a "Health In All Policies" approach. The Division of Food & Nutrition seeks to reduce hunger and food insecurity and increase the consumption of healthier foods.