Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice (OFJ) on July 6 announced that 155 Boston Summer Eats Program meal sites opened July 5, 2022, running throughout the summer. Boston Summer Eats is an innovative effort to lessen the summer food gap by increasing the availability of non-traditional meal sites that are open to all households. The program launched in 2017 with the goal to expand access to free and healthy meals for youth and teens in Boston.
“Boston’s Summer Eats program and our Farmer’s Market coupon program supports a food systems approach to provide residents with nutritious foods that also support our local economy and the health of our planet,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I am excited to get out to some of our Summer Eats and Farmers Market sites and encourage residents to visit them as well.”
Residents who wish to access free meals for youth aged 18 and under can find sites at www.boston.gov/summer-eats or find additional locations across the state by texting “Food” or “Comida” to 304-304. Hours of operation vary depending on the site, and most meal sites are currently offering breakfast, lunch and snacks. No registration or identification is required. This year, there will be no “grab and go” options available at sites. Youth will be strongly encouraged to eat on site.
“Summer should be a joyous time where children and youth should not have to worry about food.” said James O’S. Morton, Esq. President/CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston. “Boston Summer Eats removes barriers for children and youth and makes it easy for them to access food across the City. Through strong collaboration with partners, we are able to not only distribute meals, but culturally appropriate meals that children and youth want.”
The Boston Summer Eats program is led by the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice (OFJ) and the Greater Boston YMCA, a sponsor for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The program is in partnership with Project Bread, the Shah Foundation as well as many community partners and City of Boston sites including Boston Public Library (BPL), Boston Housing Authority (BHA), and Boston Public Schools (BPS).
“We all know how difficult it is for our children to learn when facing hunger both in the classroom and at home,” said Boston Public Schools Acting Superintendent Dr. Drew Echelson. “It brings me hope that community partners can come together under Mayor Wu’s leadership and address these matters head-on. We owe it to our young people to ensure equitable access to healthy and nutritious foods and this programming makes that possible through the summer.”
Another resource that households with children can use together with Summer Eats is the Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) program. Pandemic EBT is also available for families when schools are closed. All students in Boston schools are eligible for P-EBT as well as infants and children 0-5 years old whose families get SNAP benefits. K-12 students will receive a total of $391 in P-EBT benefits in two equal payments of $195.50 this summer. The first payment was issued on July 3 and the second payment will be issued on August 3. There will be a special issuance on July 11th for K-12 students who do not receive benefits on 7/3. If you believe your student is eligible for Summer P-EBT but did not receive P-EBT on 7/3, please wait until 7/11 to reach out to your school.
Families who receive SNAP and P-EBT this year for their children ages 0 through 6 will also receive two summer P-EBT payments of $195.50, totaling $391 for the summer. P-EBT payments for these children will be made on July 25 and August 25. For more information residents can visit www.map-ebt.org. These funds will go directly to residents’ P-EBT card or SNAP/EBT card if they are enrolled in SNAP. Residents are encouraged to keep their P-EBT cards even when they have used all the funds, in case additional benefits are added in the future. These funds can be used to purchase groceries anywhere EBT or SNAP is accepted including Farmers Markets. Residents can download the Fresh EBT app to find nearby stores and farmer’s markets that accept EBT.
Additionally, Farmers Market season launched in June and markets will be open until October. The Office of Food Justice encourages residents who are SNAP, P-EBT and WIC recipients to leverage programs available at farmers markets, such as the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program. This will make the food available at farmers markets more affordable, and provide families with healthier options. A list of all farmers markets can be found here.
“Farmers Markets play a key role in our communities, supporting local vendors and farmers and providing families with fresh, nutritious food,” said Hae-In Kim, Deputy Director of the Office of Food Justice. “OFJ is enthusiastic about bringing some additional benefits to residents and we are grateful to Mayor Wu for her work to create equitable access to nutritious, culturally relevant foods for Boston residents.”
The Mayor’s Office of Food Justice is operating the Farmers Market Coupon Program for the third year. The goal of the Farmers Markets Coupon Program is to support households who do not qualify for federal and state programs, including but not limited to immigrants and refugees. This year, the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice has partnered with more than 20 community-based organizations to distribute farmers market coupons to food-insecure households in Boston, including Allston-Brighton, Charleston, Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, Roslindale, Roxbury, and South Boston. No additional coupons are available at this time.
For more information about food resources available, visit boston.gov.