Summer food feeds more than kids
Under the shade of a pavilion, Antoine Dorsey chowed down on a ham barbecue Wednesday afternoon at Roosevelt Park in Arnold.
"It's pretty good," said seven-year-old Antoine, taking another bite.
Dorsey and his sister, Antoinette, 10, were at the park taking part in the state Education Department's summer meal program.
The program, which provided more than 5 million free meals and snacks to children last summer, is being held at 16 Alle-Kiski Valley locations this summer, according to the Pennsylvania Department Education.
All of the locations offer free lunch to children 18 and younger. Some, like Roosevelt Park, also provide breakfast.
"We get about 40 kids for lunch, and about 15 for breakfast," said Larry Rowe, who along with his sister, Jenny Rowe, has been volunteering to run the program at the park for the last 10 years. "People complain that kids don't have any place to go, but we're here. They can come play some basketball, or go on the swings and then get some lunch."
In Westmoreland County, the summer lunch program is sponsored by the Westmoreland County Food Bank.
"We work with the sites to provide them with food and sanitary equipment," said Michelle Heller, program coordinator for the food bank. "It's free for any site to operate."
Heller said the county served just under 28,400 meals last summer, averaging about 540 meals served a day, at 19 sites.
In Armstrong County, where the summer food program is run by the county's Community Action Agency, program organizer Kim Pivetta said it's important for the county to provide meals for children when they aren't in school.
"A lot of kids, the only meal they get during a day is at school," she said. "This makes sure they have something to eat during the summer when they can't get those meals at school."
Summer meal programs are usually implemented in areas that have a high concentration of children that qualify for free or reduced lunch during the school year.
Sally Petrilli, the service administrator for Allegheny County's summer food program, said the Department of Health and Human services operate about 100 sites around the county.
"We serve approximately 5,000 children a day," she said.
Petrilli said the county usually sees the same amount of children regardless of the state of the economy.
"We serve hundreds of thousands of children every year, regardless of what the economy is like," she said.
As for Antoine and Antoinette Dorsey, the food is just a intermission from the real fun.
"I love the swings," Antoinette said, throwing her plate away.
Summer meal program
The state Education Department's summer meal program begins this month. Below is a list of the roughly 20 participating sites across the Alle-Kiski Valley. There are no income guidelines for the program -- any child who comes will be fed. Note that Butler County doesn't have any free meal programs in the Alle-Kiski Valley.
Emmerling Park, 151 Cove Run Road, Indiana Township -- Lunch, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. through July 26.
Riverview Park, 400 Block First Ave., Tarentum -- Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Aug. 17
Sharpsburg Family Worship Center, 600 Clay St., Sharpsburg -- Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. through Aug. 17.
Sheldon Park, 480 Park Ave., Harrison -- Breakfast, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.; lunch, noon to 2 p.m. through Aug. 17.
Verona United Presbyterian Church, 566 South Ave., Verona -- Breakfast, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. through Aug. 12.
North Vandergrift playground, 1206 Jefferson St., Parks -- Lunch, 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. through Aug. 17.
St. Johns Lutheran Church, 218 N. Jefferson St., Kittanning -- Lunch, noon to 1 p.m. through Aug. 17.
Kittanning Senior High School, 1200 Orr Ave., Kittanning -- 11 a.m. to noon through Aug. 17.
Seventh Avenue Playground, Seventh Avenue, Ford City -- Lunch, noon to 1 p.m. through Aug. 17.
Boulder Park, Sixth Ave., Ford City -- Lunch, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. through Aug. 17.
Ford View Park, Route 66 and Ferndale Street, Ford City -- Lunch, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. through Aug. 17.
Leechburg CAP, 1 Kiski Ave., Leechburg -- Lunch, 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. through Aug. 17.
East Kensington Manor, 200 Gardlock Court, New Kensington -- Breakfast 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.; lunch 11:30-12:30
Roosevelt Park, 1800 Constitution Blvd., Arnold -- Breakfast 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.; lunch, 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. through Aug. 12.
Sandalwood Apartments, 253 Sandalwood Drive, Allegheny Township -- Breakfast 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; lunch, noon to 1 p.m. through Aug. 12.
Salvation Army Vandergrift, 300 Longfellow St., Vandergrift -- Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Aug. 12.
Pennsylvania Department of Education