When school lets out, hunger sets in for many of the 428,000 students who rely on school meals during the academic year, especially as family budgets are stretched tight. To combat childhood hunger – and keep children healthy all year long – communities across New Jersey serve free, healthy summer meals.

We need to make sure parents know about these meals. Please help spread the word!

Please use these resources by posting information on your website and social media feeds, including in your e-communications and distributing flyers at your events or in places where children and families congregate. On social media, please use the hashtag #njsummermeals. You can also use the attached badge in your communications.

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In general, summer meals programs, funded through the USDA, are free and require no identification or income verification from parents. Unfortunately, many parents simply do not know they exist. In fact, in 2016, just 21 percent of low-income NJ children received these meals.

Meals are served at places where children congregate -- parks, schools, pools, recreation programs and a growing number of libraries. Meals must meet USDA nutrition guidelines, which call for balanced meals that contain low salt and sugar and whole grains. This summer, New Jersey expects to have nearly 1,400 sites across the state serving meals to kids under 18.

Not only do these programs provide nutritious meals, they also give kids a chance to engage in fun, healthy activities during the summer months. Please help combat childhood hunger, keep kids healthy and ensure that children have the summertime nutrition they need to return to school in September ready to learn.