Hunger Does Not Take a Vacation
The Elizabeth Public Schools has an enrollment of approximately 27,000 students. About 80% are eligible for free and reduced meals. Since Elizabeth has a high number of economically challenged families, the USDA funded Summer Meals Program provides free meals to anyone 18 years old or younger sponsored locally by the Elizabeth Public Schools’ Food and Nutrition Services Department.
In the past this program has been underutilized, so Shaping Elizabeth and its partners have made a concerted effort to get the word out. “We know there is a need, so our goal this summer is to feed more children,” said Shaping Elizabeth’s Project Director, Corey Wu-Jung.
New flyers were developed in English and Spanish for meals and snacks served at all open locations in schools, recreation sites, and four branches of the Elizabeth Public Library. The flyers were distributed to parents in June and posted on the Elizabeth Public Schools website. Recreation flyers were distributed throughout the city and as Stan Neron, Director, Elizabeth Recreation Department stated, “The flyers are everywhere. Social media and word of mouth have played a big role in getting the word out.”
Ms. Wu-Jung has been sharing the flyers and talking about the program with partners and community members. She was surprised to hear a few people ask, “Is this a new program?” She has also enlisted the help of the Next Gen Team from partner, Groundwork Elizabeth to spread the word. These youth have been raising awareness of SNAP and the Summer Meals Program at food provider programs throughout the city.
An uptick in meals served in the community is anticipated, since at least 2 new city programs have been added. In addition to the 46 open locations, Summer meals and snacks are served at camps throughout the city run by the city’s Recreation Department and Office of Youth Services, and The Gateway Family YMCA.
About the Grantee
Shaping Elizabeth (SE) is a team of community members committed to improving the health and well-being of the residents of the City of Elizabeth by creating sustainable changes to systems, policies and the environment, by proposing and implementing strategies to close the health equity gap and support improved health, nutrition and physical activity for all.