Ocean County YMCA launches first summer meals program in Toms River

The Ocean County YMCA will begin serving nutritious meals to children from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays beginning on May 26, through the end of August.PHOTO COURTESY OF OCEAN COUNTY YMCA
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The Ocean County YMCA will begin serving nutritious meals to children from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays beginning on May 26, through the end of August.PHOTO COURTESY OF OCEAN COUNTY YMCA

The Ocean County YMCA will launch the first summer meals program in Toms River on May 26 at its facility located at 1088 West Whitty Road.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, around 22 million children receive free or reduced-cost meals thanks to the National School Lunch Program. However, once the school year ends, only 17% of those same children are able to access free meals over the summer break, leaving many without these meals.

The Y, in partnership with Toms River Regional Schools, is working to fill that gap by keeping children healthy and well-nourished this summer, ensuring they reach their full potential. Approximately 5,000 children receive meals from the National School Lunch Program. The YMCA is located centrally between two schools, Walnut Street School and Joseph A. Citta School, which both have over 50% of its students who benefit from the National School Lunch Program.

“Feeding our children gets to the core of what it means to be a student-centered school district,” Toms River Regional Schools Superintendent David Healy said in a prepared statement, “and during these challenging times it’s more important than ever that our kids’ academic, social-emotional and nutritional needs are being met. We’re proud to work alongside a valuable partner, the Ocean County YMCA, to ensure that children throughout the greater Toms River area – especially those who are economically disadvantaged – remain well fed throughout the summer months.”

The Ocean County YMCA will begin serving meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays beginning on May 26, through the end of August. Participating youth will receive nutritious lunches and snacks daily. This program will be the first of its kind in Toms River and is being operated in partnership with the Capital Area YMCA, which is currently providing 2,100 meals daily to residents of the greater Trenton community, according to the statement.

“Hunger has a lasting impact on the development of children,” Peter T. Rosario, president and CEO of the Ocean County YMCA, said in the statement. “From the first days of this crisis, we have partnered with Fulfill by packing food boxes at the BEAT Center and distributing food boxes at the Y. Giving kids access to nutrition-filled meals allows kids to focus, learn, and become empowered to reach their full potential. The Y’s Summer Meals Program is a monumental next step in our efforts to combat hunger.”

To learn more about the Ocean County YMCA’s Summer Food Program, call or email Kirsten Bowker at 732-341-9622, ext. 2215; email or kbowker@ocymca.org; or visit ocymca.org/summermeals.