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New grant to fund summer, after-school meal programs

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New grant to fund summer, after-school meal programs
Posted on 10/23/2014

The city of Portland has received a $50,000 grant from The National League of Cities to create programs providing children with after-school and summer meals, the city announced Oct. 23.

This $50,000 grant will support ongoing efforts to expand summer meal programs across the city and to break new ground by establishing programs that provide nutritious meals for kids after school as well.

“With over 50 percent of our students eligible for free or reduced lunch, it’s clear we need to do whatever we can to ensure every kid has access to a nutritious meal even when they’re not in school. This funding will significantly expand the impact of what has already been a successful collaboration over the past few years among our deeply committed partners. We’re grateful that we’ve been selected," said Portland Mayor Michael Brennan.

During the summer in Portland there are over 15 sites where any kid or teen 18 or under can enjoy a nutritious lunch at no cost. The grant will help boost awareness of those locations and will support efforts to host education and recreational activities to those sites.

Portland’s Health and Human Services Department is the grant recipient and will use funds to support and build upon the efforts of large collaboration of partners throughout the city including the Mayor’s Initiative for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System, the Summer Coordination team of ConnectED, Portland Public  Schools, and Preble Street’s Maine Hunger Initiative.

The grants are part of a National League of Cities effort that served 7.5 million meals over the last 2.5 years under the program. 

In addition to $50,000, Portland will receive customized technical assistance, access to best practices and national experts, and opportunities for peer learning as they build and expand programs to bring meals to children. Preble Street’s Maine Hunger Initiative has also received a smaller companion grant from the same program in order to help ensure and amplify the success of the project.

Clarence Anthony, Executive Director at the National League of Cities said, “The cities chosen should be commended for their commitment and willingness to do the hard work to reduce child hunger in their communities. We know that when children don’t have access to quality meals it affects their ability to learn and their classroom participation. It is imperative that more cities take advantage of federal resources to implement programs that give children access to meals.”

Portland was one of ten cities selected as part of a new technical assistance cohort. The additional nine cities are:

• Chattanooga, Tenn.

• El Centro, Calif.

• Fontana, Calif.

• Jersey City, N.J.

• Longmont, Colo.

• New Haven, Conn.

• Newark, N.J.

• Pasadena, Calif.

• Pittsburgh

 The grants are part of the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education & Families’ initiative: Cities Combating Hunger Through Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs. CHAMPS is made possible by a grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation and in partnership with Food Research and Action Center.