York County school districts launch summer meal programs to feed kids

Erin Bamer
York Dispatch
Laticha Santiago, 8, left, and Grace Mitchell, 11, both of York City, eat lunch in the shadow of a hillside mural during the Summer Food Service Program at Martin Library Tuesday, July 11, 2017. The program offers free breakfast and lunch to children 18 and younger Monday through Friday. Bill Kalina photo

With food insecurity rates rising across Pennsylvania, several local school districts have started free summer meal programs to get food to families in need. 

At least seven of York County's 16 public school districts are advertising summer meal programs on their websites, all of which have already launched or will launch next week. 

The COVID-19 pandemic elevated the need for these programs as food insecurity levels rose statewide. According to the nonprofit Communities In Schools of Pennsylvania, food insecurity for children in the state rose from 15% to 35% during the pandemic, partially due to the increase in at-home learning limiting food access in some households. 

In an effort to combat this problem, several local school districts offered curbside meal pickup options and increased free meals for students. Now, with the school year concluding, district officials are looking at what they can provide for families during the summer months. 

Southern York County School District launched its program June 2. Families can pick up meals for their children between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. every Wednesday at Shrewsbury Elementary. The program will provide seven days worth of meals. Families are asked to fill out pre-order forms so district officials can prepare enough meals for everyone. 

More:More information on Southern York County's summer meal service

Dover Area School District has also launched its weekly meal program for the summer. According to the district's website, the program provides about $125 worth of meals for children each week, in the form of seven breakfasts and seven lunches per child. 

The meals are picked up curbside at Weigelstown Elementary between 10 a.m. and noon every Thursday. Families must fill out a pre-order form on the district's website every week in order to receive food. 

More:More information on Dover's summer meal service

Spring Grove Area School District launched its program on Monday, providing meals for children two days per week this summer. The food can be picked up at Spring Grove Area Middle School between 11 a.m. and noon on Mondays and Wednesdays. 

More:More information on Spring Grove's summer meal service

West Shore School District's program also launched Monday. Free breakfast and lunch can be picked up at multiple West Shore schools between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday every week this summer. Monday through Wednesday's meals will include one breakfast and one lunch per child, while Thursday's meals will include three breakfasts and three lunches. 

This week, meals can be picked up at Highland Elementary and Newberry Elementary. Next week, the pickup locations will be at Hillside Elementary, Washington Heights Elementary and the Budget Inn in New Cumberland. The district will continue to update pickup locations on its website. Meals will not be available for pickup on July 5. 

More:More information on West Shore's summer meal service

Central York School District will launch its summer meal program Monday, and it will run until Aug. 5. Between noon and 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday, families can pick up breakfast and lunch for each child at Hayshire Elementary, Stonybrook Elementary, North Hills Elementary and The York Learning Center in North York. No meals will be available July 5 or July 6. 

More:More information on Central York's summer meal service

Red Lion Area School District is launching its summer meal program Tuesday. Three meals and snacks per child will be available to pick up between 11 a.m. and noon on Tuesdays this summer at Mazie Gable Elementary. 

More:More information on Red Lion's summer meal service

Eastern York School District is launching a monthly summer food program Wednesday, June 16. The district previously offered a weekly meal program, but according to a district announcement, it switched to a monthly service in order to provide healthier food in larger quantities. 

The food pickups will take place the third Wednesday in June, July and August at several local churches. Each food box will include milk, eggs, cheese, meats and dry goods. Families must register each child on Eastern York's website, on the children's services page. 

More:More information on Eastern York's summer meal service