County Approaching 5 Millionth Meal Served Through Summer Food Program

Rensselaer County is continuing a summer tradition, with the launch of the county’s Summer Food Program on Thursday during an event at the Greenbush Area YMCA with County Executive Steve McLaughlin, local officials and supporters of the program.

This summer marks the 47th year of the county Summer Food program and occurs as the region is beginning to emerge from the pandemic. The program has been a source of support for kids for generations.

“The Summer Food program is one of the most important services provided by Rensselaer County and our partners. It shows that kids who need support are not forgotten during the summer,” said McLaughlin.

“This is also a great sign that we are emerging from the pandemic and able to return to important activities and traditions in Rensselaer County,” added McLaughlin.

The program is a partnership between the county and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the state Education Department and helps ensure kids 18 and under have access to nutritious meals during the summer.

This year, to help with the response to the pandemic, the USDA has extended waivers expanding the number of children eligible for the program. The waivers erase geographic requirements for eligibility.

“The expansion is helpful because it means kids who need a meal from all areas can access the Summer Food program during a time when it may be especially needed,” said county Youth Director Pierce Hoyt.

The county Summer Food program includes 21 sites across the county serving lunch and either breakfast or a snack. Sites include day camps, Boys and Girls clubs, churches, community centers, schools and housing projects. The meals are offered over the course of 10 weeks, starting July 1 and running through August 31.

The county anticipates serving over 120,000 meals as part of the Summer Food program during the summer of 2021.

“We estimate the county is approaching 5 million meals served in the Summer Food program since the program started in the early 1970s. This county has a tradition of caring for our children and we are proud that legacy is continuing into a fifth decade,” said McLaughlin.

“The County’s summer food program is an important part of the summer camp experience for so many children. The campers at the YMCA today were amazed to learn that Rensselaer County provides over 100,000 summer meals each year. It is a program the Legislature is thrilled to support”, Vice-Chair of the Legislature Kelly Hoffman- North Greenbush.

“Thanks to the summer food program, kids who receive their meals at school don’t have to worry about healthy meals and snacks during their summer programs. This program  is a win-win for the children and their families”, said Legislator Dan Casale- Brunswick.

“It is always a pleasure to see happy kids take advantage of the wonderful programs at the East Greenbush YMCA, and I am very pleased that Rensselaer County is in a position to provide these meals to youth programs throughout the county”, said  Legislator Tom Grant- East Greenbush.