Agencies step up to help feed Rochester youth during summer

School’s almost out – but what happens to students who had a guaranteed meal at school?

Summer Meals has been partnering with Foodlink to keep the children of Rochester fed through the summer months.

They are “supported by a few sponsors that provide meals to youth throughout the summer at sites all over the city. So any youth from 2 to 18 can go into a site and can get a meal, no questions asked,” Causewaves Community Partners Employee Aaron Lattanzio said.

One of those sponsors is Foodlink.

“Foodlink has a commercial kitchen. We are one of the vendors, we cook thousands of meals per day for summer camps, bible camps, sports camps. Any type of program that is serving youth, we’re providing food to make sure that those kids get fed well,” Foodlink Chief Programs Officer Mitch Gruber said.

When eating at a Summer Meals camp, children will have to stay there while they eat.

“There’s no paperwork, they don’t really ask any questions. Just need to be under the age of 18 and they can participate. They don’t ask addresses or anything like that,” Lattanzio said.

For children who don’t participate in summer camps, both programs have another option.

Summer Meals provides meals to any child at any location, regardless if they are participating in a camp or program. And Foodlink has something they like to call the “ice cream truck model.”

“A lot of kids stopped going to camps. A lot of camps didn’t open again after the pandemic,” Gruber said. “So we took a vehicle similar to this one, load it up every day with summer meals, and drive it around neighborhoods that are far away from recreation centers and far away from other programming and make sure that those folks also have access to summer meals.”

This summer, Summer Meals is looking to provide hundreds of thousands of meals to kids in the city of Rochester. Meanwhile, Foodlink is set to receive $2 million in state funding for Double Up Food Bucks NY, which matches SNAP funds $1 for $1, up to $20 per day, to purchase local fresh fruits and vegetables.