By Courtney Cole, WBZ-TV
CHARLESTOWN – Inflation is impacting everyday necessities, and one of the most noticeable increases many of us have experienced is in the grocery checkout line.
Five-year-old Skylar Painton shyly ate her lunch Wednesday. But her grandmother, Rochelle Williams, wasn’t shy about explaining why the Boston Summer Eats program has been a real blessing for her twin grandchildren, Skylar and Michaela.
“There is a void of nutritional food throughout the community, not just this community, throughout everywhere,” Williams said.
The Boston Summer Eats program is a collaboration between the City of Boston, YMCA of Greater Boston and Project Bread.
“During the school year, school meals can count for over half of the daily calories that kids consume. So summertime is especially concerning. We want to make sure that families and kids access these meals throughout the summer,” said Erin McAleer, the president and CEO of Project Bread. She added that the program provides free breakfast and lunch to kids through 18 years old from July to September.
“It provides a budget relief for the parents. Parents know that their kids are going to have breakfast and lunch at the playground or the pool or wherever they might be. They don’t have to worry so much about paying for those meals at home, with the cost of food being so incredibly high right now,” McAleer said.
Williams told me she’s definitely noticed the change at the checkout line.
“When I got to the register, what I have been paying for a bag of groceries has now been increased by at least a third. And you still want to get the same quality groceries that your family is used to,” Williams said.
McAleer said there are more than 1,000 sites in Massachusetts and 164 sites in Boston providing summer meals..
“Last summer, 7.5 million meals were reserved across the state of Massachusetts. In Boston, it was over 560,000 just in the month of July, alone. It’s huge!” McAleer exclaimed.
Mcaleer said the kids and their families love it, and Williams is proof of that.
“I think it’s a very valued program in my family because they look forward to coming,” Williams said. “And sometimes – what I noticed — my grand twins, they will eat different things out at school or at this program lunch, where they will not eat or try it home. So, it was also a nice introduction of different food groups to their pallets.”
The program is sensitive to fact that it’s not always easy to seek help. That’s why when you come to one of their Summer Eats sites, there’s no ID or registration required.
To find your nearest site, text “Food” or “Comida” to 304-304.