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Thousands of free lunches available to Capital Region kids

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Albany/HV: Thousands of free lunches available to Capital Region kids
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Sometimes lunch is the only meal a child eats every day. Now, there will be thousands more provided to Capital Region kids through summer meal programs, especially for those who may have not have had such easy access in the past. Innae Park reports.

CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. -- It's a familiar sight in the Capital Region during the summer months as thousands of meals are served to kids without means.

Allison Williams is the summer lunch coordinator for Schenectady Inner City Ministry. She said, “We have 22 sites and a mobile site which is a pilot for this year.”

The summer lunch wagon will be making stops around the Electric City through the end of August, providing meals when the separate sites close earlier in the month.

That is due in part to an $85,000 donation from United Way, which is also helping to fund new summer meal sites around the area.

President and CEO of the United Way of the Greater Capital Region Brian Hassett said, “These are our children too. So thank you for being here and thank you for your support.”

Although children may be more aware of the meals in Schenectady, the program in neighboring Saratoga County is just getting started. This year marks the county’s first ever open summer meal program. In the past, Saratoga County only offered closed enrolled sites, where families needed to register in advance.

The Clifton Park Halfmoon Emergency Corps is the newest site in the county. Specialist Gina Stalica said, “People don't really necessarily need to qualify based on income. You can really get anyone coming through here.”

Considering there are over 7,000 youth in Saratoga County who qualify for free meals, the program is certainly needed.

However, it's not as accessible as some of the other locations. Non-profit CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services is running this location, and organizers hope to change that down the road.

“We've thought about using our vans to transport kids,” said Stalica. “Unfortunately the need is never going to go away. I think that a lot of people forget that sometimes. It's important for us to keep spreading the word about this is as a resource.”

If you're interested, call 211 or go to SummerMealsNY.org to find a site near you.

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