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United Way Steps Up To Provide Summer Lunch Program

Providing Free Lunch to Local Youth

August 2, 2019
Utica, NY - In the city of Utica, 85% of students receive free or reduced lunches at school. During the summer months, a community lunch program helps to provide meals when children are not in school. This summer, however, that program was very close to disappearing. United Way of the Valley and Greater Utica Area (United Way VGU) stepped in to pick up the program to ensure families in need received these meals. In mid-July United Way VGU partnered with Hope House and began supplying 280 packed lunches a day to children and families. By summer’s end the program will provide almost 10,000 lunches to youth and their families. 
Lunches are available at one of six community locations including West Side Senior Center, Gilmore Village, Humphrey Gardens, The Salvation Army, The North Utica Community Center, and Brandegee Apartments, with most locations serving them mid-day, Monday through Friday. United Way VGU will make lunches available through August 30th, 2019.
“When we learned that children and families would be missing lunch this summer, we knew that we needed to quickly create a solution. Pulling resources together to make positive impact is what we do,” stated Erin Matt, CEO at United Way VGU.  “We are grateful for our partnership with Hope House, Oneida County’s Workforce Development office, and Food Bank of Central New York. Hope House immediately agreed to host us and assist us in ordering supplies. We knew we would need help daily preparing meals, and Workforce Development has placed a team of workers with us from the Summer Youth Employment Program.  These students are helping to feed their community and are doing a fantastic job.”
How You Can Help:
There are still ways to join the cause to make sure children in our community are not hungry this summer: 
1) United Way VGU is looking for volunteers to sign up to prepare and help get meals distributed to the sites in a timely way each day. To sign up to help click here!
2) United Way is able to provide services such as the Summer Lunch Program because of generous community members and their support. Click here to make a donation to support our work.
By: Kristyn Bucciero Beckwith