Program Available to Help Kids Get Meals During Summer

By Eyewitness News , Eric Deabill |

Published 07/01 2014 06:20PM

Updated 07/01 2014 11:42PM

Scranton, Lackawanna County-Hunger doesn't take a summer vacation.

That's the message Senator Bob Casey pushed Tuesday in Scranton.

The state's senior senator was highlighting a program that could help tens-of-thousands of families across northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

During the school year, many kids get breakfast and lunch at school but when the summer rolls around, that all changes.

Through the "Summer Food Service Program," Senator Casey highlighted the fact that there are more than 100 sites in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties that offer free lunches each day to needy kids.

Even though school is out, free lunches are still available to many kids.

"We had these chicken wraps and broccoli and strawberry yogurt and I really liked the strawberry yogurt," Lilly Pettus said.

At the Washington Plaza Apartments in Scranton, everyday roughly 25 kids get a meal everyday.

"The reason I like the program is because I get to hang out with my friends and just talk and have fun during the summer," Malakhi Williams said.

June Doughitt has served thousands of meals over the last 34 years and sees the importance of the "Summer Food Service Program."

"Some of them (kids) come right out and say, this is the only meal they eat all day so they enjoy their meals. They're happy," Doughitt said.

Senator Bob Casey stopped by the facility Tuesday to help highlight the program.

When school lets out, Casey says many parents don't think help is available and that is not the case.

Senator Casey says hunger impacts one out of every five kids.

"If kids learn more now, they'll earn more later literally," Senator Casey said. "Their economic prospects will be brighter if they learn. It's pretty hard to learn during the school year, during the summer if you don't have enough to eat."

For grandmother Wilhelmina Braswell, the program is about good nutrition.

"With cuts with food stamps, you know and mothers don't know how to shop properly so the kids don't eat right. They go to their friend's house to eat. They depend on this program," Braswell said.

Senator Casey says more than 34,000 kids in Lackawanna and Luzerne Counties alone are eligible for the program but many don't know about it or where to turn.

For more information, or to find a meal site near you, visit or call 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE.

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