|O'Connell tries to register a few voters|
|Hendricks has just returned from hunger conference|
Currently, meals are served to 1,500 children at a total of 64 sites in Allentown over the summer months as part of the City's 105 year-old playground program. But that's only a fraction of the City's 17,000 children. Thanks to the help of many caring people, O'Connell is announcing an expansion of that program at five new locations: Allentown Public Library; Lehigh Valley Hospital - 17th St; Greater Valley YMCA; Alliance Hall of Allentown; and Mosser Village Family Center.
|Mota pledged to get the word out|
He credited the Allentown Health Bureau, Parks and Recreation, the School District, Lehigh Valley Children Centers, Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council and other community organizations.
As a former teacher and school principal, O'Connell said there is a direct relation between food and learning capacity. "Too many students regress over the summer, not necessarily because they're not reading or doing math, but they're hungry," he observed.
|O'Connell: "Hunger doesn't take a summer vacation."|
Ellen O'Brien, who retired from Allentown School District on Friday, agreed that food security does not end with the end of the school year.
Lehigh Valley Health Network's Cathy Coyne, who said her center provided lunches to 14 kids on their first day, pointed out that food insecure children have a greater risk of illness.
Greater Valley YMCA's Maribel Tandazo actually has five open sites, and has served over 1,000 meals this summer. Some of the children have told her that they are more than food insecure. When they return home, there is no food at all.
CACLV's Susan Dalandan said that, in 2016, the number of Lehigh Valley sites serving meals to children had dropped to 60, and reached only a very small percentage of food insecure children. This year, it's double that amount.
Allentown Health Bureau's Tina Amato had a message for parents who are worried about where they will find theur next meal."We are here to help you."
"I know all too well what happens when children don't have a meal," said Allentown City Council member Daryl Hendricks, a retired police captain. "They tend to act out."
"The children are our future,"added City Council member Cynthia Mota. She vowed to do her best to get the word out.
Families can call 211 or text "food" to 877-877 to find the closest free summer meal site.