Free meals available for children at drop-in sites

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Across Vermont, just over 36,000 school-age children rely on school breakfast and lunch to provide the nutrition they need to grow and thrive. When school is not in session, these children are left vulnerable to food insecurity and the resulting consequences. Communities are taking action by offering free meals for kids and teens during the summer months.

This year, nearly 300 sites are serving free, healthy meals and snacks to kids and teens during summer break through the Summer Food Service Program. Meals are served in locations where kids naturally congregate in the summer, including public parks and pools, libraries, and schools, and are often paired with either enrichment or physical activities to keep kids moving and learning. From Bennington and Brattleboro to the Northeast Kingdom and Champlain Islands, towns all around the state are taking part in these efforts.

Summer meals play a critical role in the health and wellbeing of Vermont's youth. Without proper nutrition, low-income students are at risk of losing two months of both reading and math skills over summer break. The nutrition, structure, stability, and socialization of summer meal programs can help to close this achievement gap and ensure that children return to school healthy and ready to learn.

"Tasty meals with fruit, vegetables, proteins, and grains are available five days a week during the summer throughout the state, thanks to summer meals programs," Anore Horton, executive director of Hunger Free Vermont, said in a media release. "One of the greatest things about summer meal sites is that they welcome all young people — everyone 18 and under is invited to just show up, eat a meal, and enjoy themselves."

Hunger Free Vermont, New England Dairy and Food Council, and the Vermont Farm to Plate Network are promoting and supporting summer meal programs around the state to ensure that as many people know about the summer meals sites that are currently serving kids around the state. Follow #RootedinVermont on social media to see how summer meals are fostering a deepened sense of community, and look for lawn signs with our watermelon logo to find meal sites in your town.

Open summer meal sites are available to anyone 18 years old and under — there is no need to register or call ahead. All children, regardless of household income, are encouraged to attend. Site information can be found by visiting https://www.hungerfreevt.org/summer-meals-site-lists/ or by calling 2-1-1. Texting "FOOD" to 877-877 will also provide information on nearby meal sites.

Bennington County drop-in summer meal sites

Applegate Apartments

89 Applegate Drive, Bennington

Monday through Friday, until Aug. 2

Breakfast 8:15-9:15 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m.-noon

Beech Court

201 Beech St., Bennington

Monday through Friday, through Aug. 2

Breakfast, 8:15-9:15 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Bennington Elementary School

128 Park St., Bennington

Monday through Thursday, through Aug. 1

Breakfast, 8-8:30 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m.-noon

Bennington Free Library

101 Silver St., Bennington

Friday, through Aug. 2

Lunch, 11:30 a.m.-noon

Bennington Recreation Center

655 Gage St., Bennington

Monday through Friday, through Aug. 2

Breakfast, 8:15-9:15 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m.-noon

Molly Stark School

181 Orchard Road, Bennington

Monday through Thursday, through Aug. 1

Breakfast, 8:15- 9:15 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m.-noon

Monument Elementary School

66 Main St., Bennington

Monday through Thursday, through Aug. 1

Breakfast, 9:10-9:40 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m.-noon

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Mount Anthony Union Middle School

747 East Road, Bennington

Monday through Friday, through Aug. 2

Breakfast, 8:15-9:15 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m.-noon

Mount Anthony Union High School

301 Park St., Bennington

Monday through Friday, through Aug. 2

Breakfast 8:15-9:15 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m.-noon

School's Out Daycare

901 Main St., Bennington

Monday through Friday, through Aug. 2

Breakfast, 8:15- 9:15 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m-noon

St. Peter's Episcopal Church

200 Pleasant St., Bennington

Monday through Friday, through Aug. 2

Lunch, 11:30 a.m.-noon

Willowbrook Apartments

22 Willowbrook Drive, Bennington

Monday through Friday, through Aug. 2

Breakfast, 8:15-9:15 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.-noon

Bennington College

1 College Drive, North Bennington

Monday through Friday, through Aug. 2

Breakfast, 9- 9:30 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m-noon

The Village School

9 School St., North Bennington

Monday through Friday, through Aug. 2

Breakfast, 9- 9:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m-noon

UCS Summer Program

269 Houghton St., North Bennington

Monday through Thursday, through Aug. 1

Breakfast 8-9 a.m.; lunch noon-12:30 p.m.

Pownal Elementary School

94 Schoolhouse Road, Pownal

Monday through Thursday, through Aug. 1

Breakfast 8:30- 9:30 a.m.; lunch 11:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.


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