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Kids Help Steer Menus For Free Summer Lunch Program in Philadelphia

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of youngsters from a summer camp in West Philadelphia participated today in a taste test for the free summer meals program

The campers at Resurrection Baptist Church, on Lansdowne Avenue, may be on summer vacation, but the Archdiocese of Philadelphia put their young palates to work.

“I ate a wrap and salad and drunk a chocolate milk,” says Mekhai, 7.   The third-grader was one of more than a dozen taste testers who helped local agencies decide on the 15 to 18 menu options that help feed tens of thousands of Philadelphia kids at more than 400 free lunch sites across the city.

“It was good,” he said.  “I gave it a thumbs up.”

“Our goal is to make appealing taste good, but also food that kids are going to enjoy,” says Anne Ayala, assistant director of nutrition development services at the archdiocese.   She says they provide 10,000 – 15,000 meals a day to area sites, but admits there’s a huge gap.  According to a recent study, she notes, 160,000 Philadelphia kids get free and reduced lunch during the school year but only one in six gets free lunch during the summer.

“Oftentimes they are not aware of where to go or think they have to register for a camp or program, but in reality there are a lot of free, open-air meal sites,” she says.

For a list of free summer meals locations, go to

More from Cherri Gregg
  • Officials Promote Philadelphia’s Summer Meals Program For School-Age Kids « CBS Philly

    […] The city has about 900 sites open throughout the summer to give kids under the age of 18 a free lunch at noon, and snacks at 3pm (see related story). […]

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