This week, prominent Latino chef and Chopped judge visited I.S. 347 School of Humanities in his own neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn to help spread awareness of the Summer Food Service Program.
In partnership with the USDA, WhyHunger’s national Summer Meals Rocks for Kids campaign hopes to increase access to food for those in need, especially while school is not in session. During the summer, I.S. 347 alone feeds approximately 230 children each day.
Chef Sánchez, who joined the WhyHunger campaign in 2013 and is the program’s first chef-ambassador, spoke before a crowd of students from local summer programs about the importance of eating well, and conducted a cooking demonstration of a simple flatbread topped with cheese and pico de gallo.
"I live in Bushwick and see kids playing at the neighborhood parks,” said chef Sánchez.” It's so important for them to have a place to come during the summer months where they can have a good meal. Initiatives like this ensure that kids always have access to a good meal."
During the school year, an estimated 31 million kids rely on USDA-provided breakfast and lunch, while the Summer Food Service Program is designed to help families fill the gap between school years.
“New York City is the largest provider of summer meals — more than anywhere else in the country — and the idea of making sure that you have that momentum of children continuing to be focused, well-nurtured, and well-fed through the summer months is extremely important,” said chef Sánchez. "There can’t be a drop-off from what they have during the school year.
“It makes me very proud to have gone through the New York City school system to see how they’re very invested in making sure these kids are well fed and giving them programs to keep them active.”
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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.