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More free meals for kids offered this summer

SUMMER MEAL PROGRAMS help ensure school-age children maintain access to nourishing, consistent meals when school is not in session.

ADDISON COUNTY — Local youth will have more opportunities to access free meals this summer, after several factors reduced the number of places kids could eat for free once school let out for summer vacation last year. 

Summer meal programs help ensure school-age children maintain access to nourishing, consistent meals when school is not in session. Last summer, opportunities to access such programs were limited in Addison County and in other parts of the state for a variety of reasons, including the federal government tightening free summer meals rules that during the pandemic had increased funding eligibility and allowed more school districts to expand their year-round meal programs. 

Without those pandemic-era allowances fewer communities in the county were able to offer meals for local youth throughout the summer, such as in the Vergennes-area Addison Northwest School District, which did not offer a summer meals program in summer 2023. 

This year, free summer meals will once again be offered in the Vergennes area, as well as in several other communities throughout Addison County. 

A full list of summer meal sites can be found on the nonprofit Hunger Free Vermont’s website at hungerfreevt.org/summer-meals. That list will be updated as sites become approved and begin serving meals. All sites included on the list are free for children age 18 and younger, regardless of the town they reside in. 

Options around Addison County include free summer meal kits available for pick-up in New Haven and Starksboro. 

From June 26 to Aug. 8, the New Haven Community Library will offer meal kits on Thursdays from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Meal kits will be distributed at Robinson Elementary School in Starksboro on Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

“Those meal kits are for children 18 and under and they are groceries; a bag of groceries that would make up seven days’ worth of breakfast and lunch for one child,” explained Kathy Alexander, food service director for the Mount Abraham and Addison Northwest school districts. 

Food service officials are hoping to add a third meal kit site in Ferrisburgh or Vergennes. In the meantime, all are welcome at the New Haven and Starksboro sites. 

Families are not required to sign-up for the kits ahead of time, and the kits are free for any child regardless of the town they live in. Alexander noted the kits are intended for children not already receiving meals through another site or program. 

Other summer meal offerings for Addison County youth include:  

• The Ferrisburgh Central School will host a drop-in meal site from June 24-Aug. 2. Lunch will be provided at the site Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to noon. 

• Three summer meal sites in Bristol — at the Bristol Elementary School, The Hub Teen Center and the Lawrence Memorial Library. 

• Bridport Central School will distribute meals through Aug. 16. Individuals can pick up lunch for the day and breakfast for the following day Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.-noon in the school lobby. 

• Middlebury will host two summer meal sites — one at Mary Hogan School and another at Middlebury Union Middle School. 

Now through Aug. 16, grab-and-go breakfast and lunch will be available Monday through Friday at Mary Hogan from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and at MUMS from 11 a.m to noon. 

• In Vergennes, breakfast and lunch will be offered Monday through Friday from July 8 through Aug. 9 at Vergennes Union High School. 

• Starksboro will run three summer meal sites in addition to the meal kits offered at Robinson — one at the Common Ground Center, CSAC Discovery, and at the Starksboro Cooperative Preschool. 

Additional details on summer meal sites in Addison County can be found on Hunger Free Vermont’s website. 

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