Press Release - Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz
District Office

404 55th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(718) 492-6334

The Assembly

Room 542
Legislative Office Bldg.
Albany, NY 12248
(518) 455-3821

August 11, 2005

Summer is Still Hot but Bloomberg’s Plan
for Summer Meals Is Not
Over 80 summer schools close for the year along with their meal sites

(Albany, NY) - Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (Brooklyn), Chair of the Assembly Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy asked Mayor Bloomberg to come up with a plan to ensure that all of the City’s low-income children have an accessible summer meal site until school starts up again. On Tuesday, 86 summer schools closed their doors for the summer forcing hungry children to find an alternative breakfast and lunch.

"For the last few years the number of summer meal sites in NYC has dropped along with participation. Every year when summer school ends many buildings close and children are told they can travel to another site open to the community. However, the total number of summer school meal sites decreased by 162 last year. Unfortunately, the children often don’t or can’t get to another site to get a nutritious subsidized meal and their parents who can rely on the school meal programs during the year have to struggle to feed their children. This doesn’t make sense when the Mayor is trying to improve the nutritional health and educational performance of our children," said Ortiz.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federal program designed to provide nutritious breakfasts, lunch and snacks to low-income children at schools, recreation programs, public housing, camps and other locations. In NYC the program is operated by the Department of Education, which is the largest sponsor, the NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) and not-for-profit sponsors. NYS supplements the federal funds with State funding to encourage more sponsors and sites. The SFSP serves a small percentage of the number of children who participate in school lunch and breakfast programs partly because of lack of sponsors and sites.

The Children’s Defense Fund issued a report this year with recommendations for improving service including:

  • Open more sites in underserved areas even if the summer school enrollment is lower and get more NYCHA tenant organizations involved to expand the number of housing sites.
  • Integrate meals into summer school or recreation programs schedules.
  • Publicize the program better.
  • Provide more coordination between the City agencies involved.

According to Ortiz, "The Mayor claims that his number one responsibility is the education of our children. Studies have shown that low-income children who get breakfast and participate in meal programs do better in school and score higher on standardized tests. He needs to make sure that children attending summer school have the same nutrition they get during the year. Our neighborhoods need more programs. In the Assembly I have worked to expand participation in all of the food assistance programs and we initiated the State funding for summer meals. I plan to meet with City officials and work toward program improvements."