While many public school students welcome summer dismissal, thousands of children and teens in Philadelphia who rely on subsidized school lunches and snacks lament losing a consistent meal.
But many aren't aware that meals are still available.
Starting this month, any Philadelphian aged 18 and under can get free summer meals at more than 1,000 locations across the city without registration or identification.
Meals in the program, which is sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture, are distributed locally in the city at recreation centers, schools, religious centers, community organizations, and public housing complexes, among other places.
"It's administered in the same way that school meals are distributed," said Ronna Bolante, spokeswoman with the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. "We distribute in most areas in Philadelphia because we have such a high poverty rate, so a child can go to any of these sites and have a free, unique meal."
In Pennsylvania, Bolante said, four out of five of those low-income students are not aware of this program, and locally, thousands are falling into malnutrition without the regular school lunch.
"When school is out," she said, "these meals help fill the gap."
Don't go hungry
To find your nearest summer meals site:
Call the Philly Summer Meals Hotline: 1-855-252-MEAL