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Monday, March 25, 2019

MAYOR WALSH OPENS APPLICATIONS FOR BOSTON EATS MINI-GRANTS

MAYOR WALSH OPENS APPLICATIONS FOR BOSTON EATS MINI-GRANTS
BOSTON - Monday, March 25, 2019 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced mini-grant applications are now available for community partners interested in creating summer meal sites through the Boston Eats program, which provides free meals to youth age 18 and under across the City of Boston. Organizations are encouraged to apply here by the April 5, 2019 deadline.

"The ability to access healthy meal options is directly linked to a young person's health and success," said Mayor Walsh. "I am encouraged by the strong partnerships we have made to address the summer meal gap, and connect our youth to easily accessible and healthy meal options as they transition into a new school year."

Led by the Mayor's Office of Food Access (OFA), the Boston Eats program aims to increase community participation through a series of mini-grants to be distributed to partners who will create nontraditional summer meals sites in 30 locations across the City of Boston. These mini-grants are made possible through a partnership between OFA, Project Bread's Child Nutrition Outreach Program, and the YMCA of Greater Boston, and by funding provided through the Boston Children's Hospital's Collaboration for Community Health.

"Our partnership with Children's Hospital will enhance our Boston Eats program and feed more youth when meal options may be limited," said Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez. "I'm proud of the work carried out by the Mayor's Office of Food Access to further reduce barriers in accessing healthy meal opportunities so Boston youth have access to reliable and healthy food options year-round."

In 2017, OFA and its partners piloted an open meal site initiative at Boston City Hall and Mattapan Public Library, through which nearly 3,000 meals were served. The following year, the program expanded to more Boston Public Library branches, municipal buildings, farmers markets, and Boston Housing Authority locations. These sites served a combined total of nearly 19,000 meals to youth in the City of Boston. The success of the program displayed a significant need for the Boston Eats program.

Meals are available on a first-come-first-serve basis with no identification or registration required for youth. In addition to providing meals, these sites provide a safe space for youth to engage with their peers when school is not in session and connect families with other resources in their neighborhoods.

"For more than 25 years, Boston Children's has dedicated resources and used its expertise to improve child health outcomes beyond the walls of our hospital," said Sandra L. Fenwick, President and Chief Executive Officer of Boston Children's Hospital. "Through the Collaboration for Community Health, we're able to further extend by helping more community partners to implement programs and strategies that are vital to a child's overall health."

In Greater Boston, one in nine children struggles with hunger. When school is out for the summer, food at home is not always available and hunger over the summer can result in overall learning loss and decreased physical and mental health by the time the fall comes around again. The aim of this program is to encourage community partners to provide food for youth to help strengthen communities from the ground up, starting with their children.

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