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Shapiro Administration Visits Bethlehem Public Library to Highlight Summer Meals, Learning Opportunities for Kids

07/08/2024

Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Dr. Khalid N. Mumin today visited the South Side branch of the Bethlehem Public Library to make sure Pennsylvanians know about the summer programming happening at libraries across the Commonwealth, including free summer meals for kids who usually get lunch at school.  

Statewide, there are over 2,000 summer meal service sites this summer – meaning kids are able to keep their bellies full even when school is not in session. The South Side Library is one of 33 summer meal service locations in the Bethlehem Area School District this summer, aiming to serve 25 students a day. Last year, the library served over 500 lunches throughout the summer, with nearly 44,000 meals being served at school district meal service locations throughout the summer.

“Kids can’t learn on empty bellies, and hunger knows no seasonal boundaries. Students need nutritious, filling meals to keep them energized and learning throughout the summer months as well as during the school year,” said Secretary Mumin. “There are thousands of locations in Pennsylvania where students can enjoy a healthy, free meal this summer – including local libraries.”

The Shapiro Administration is committed to ensuring that all children and students have access to healthy meals all year long. That’s why Governor Josh Shapiro delivered free breakfast for Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million students last year. The 2024-25 budget builds on that progress with a $16.7 million increase to continue the universal free breakfast program, making sure students have access to healthy meals to start their day on the right foot, and making sure no kid goes hungry during the summer by funding the summer food service program.

In addition to serving up exciting reads and programs during the summer, libraries are also serving students free summer meals to continue fueling them when school is not in session. Last summer, over 4 million meals were served throughout the Commonwealth through the summer meals program.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded program that provides free meals to children so they can receive the same high-quality nutrition during school vacations as they receive during the school year. Continued nutrition helps them return to school after summer ready to learn. Children 18 and under are eligible to receive meals at one of Pennsylvania’s many sites this summer, and all meals and snacks served through the program must meet federal nutrition standards, and require servings of grains, proteins, fruits and vegetables, and milk. 

“Our library remains dedicated to evolving alongside our community’s needs through innovative programs and services. We are excited to offer enriching opportunities for families to learn, read, and create lasting memories together through our Summer Reading Program,” said Alison Madden, South Side Library Branch Manager. “Our partnership with the Bethlehem Area School District is one of the many valuable services that we offer, providing a vital free lunch program for children and teens.”

Meal sites can be found on the USDA’s Summer Meals for Kid Site Finder; by calling 211, 1-866-3-HUNGRY, or 1-877-8HAMBRE; by texting “Summer” or “VERANO” to 914-342-7744; or by downloading the Range app  to your mobile device. Parties interested in establishing a summer meal service site can find information PDE’s Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) page.

In addition to providing free summer meals for kids, libraries across the Commonwealth also provide programs and services to learners of all ages, helping to prevent summer learning loss, also known as the “summer slide,” that many kids throughout the nation experience each summer. Many libraries offer a wide variety of hands-on programs, including crafts, story times, special guests, and much more. Check out your local library to learn more about the great resources they offer all year long!

For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Education, please visit the Department of Education website or follow PDE on InstagramFacebookTwitterYouTube, or Pinterest.​

MEDIA CONTACT: Casey Smith, casesmith@pa.gov

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