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Pittsburgh receives grant for kids meal programs


The National League of Cities is awarding Pittsburgh a $50,000 grant to create programs providing children with afterschool and summer meals.

Using the NLC grant, the city hopes to build visibility, drive participation, promote a healthy relationship with food, and broaden awareness among families who qualify for meals programs but are not currently enrolled. By introducing attractive programming, and through an aggressive citywide campaign, the city of Pittsburgh will increase the number of children participating in summer and afterschool meals programs.

The city’s goal is to increase participation in the programs by 10 per cent next summer. Commencing in February 2015, Citiparks will be embarking on a comprehensive out of school time program offering that will enhance the feeding initiative.

The grants, issued to 10 cities nationwide, are part of a National League of Cities effort that served 7.5 million meals over the last 2.5 years under the program.

In addition to $50,000, Pittsburgh will receive customized technical assistance, access to best practices and national experts, and opportunities for peer learning as they build and expand programs to bring meals to children.

Clarence Anthony, executive director at the National League of Cities said, “The cities chosen should be commended for their commitment and willingness to do the hard work to reduce child hunger in their communities. We know that when children don’t have access to quality meals it affects their ability to learn and their classroom participation. It is imperative that more cities take advantage of federal resources to implement programs that give children access to meals.”

Pittsburgh was one of ten cities selected as part of a new technical assistance cohort. The additional nine cities include: Chattanooga, TN; El Centro, CA Fontana, CA; Jersey City, NJ; Longmont, CO; New Haven, CT; Newark, NJ; Pasadena, CA; and, Portland, ME

Another three cities will receive grants to act as “faculty” or mentors to an additional six cities that will be chosen at a later date with the input of the faculty cities. The faculty cities are: Denver, CO; Gary, IN; and, Providence, RI.

“One of my administration’s top priorities is a focus on Pittsburgh’s youngest residents, and giving them the support they need -- from access to health care to early childhood education -- to grow into the next generation of Pittsburgh leaders,” Mayor William Peduto said. “Anti-hunger programs are another major step in that process, and National League of Cities continues to be one of Pittsburgh’s greatest partners in providing opportunities to our children.”

Afterschool and summer meal programs fill an enormous need for families as nearly 1 in 4 American families with children suffered from food hardship within the last year. City officials have provided leadership in creating city-wide systems of afterschool and summer programming and developing anti-hunger awareness campaigns.

Pittsburgh has a goal of growing the summer meals programs by up to 10 per cent, expanding participation from an average daily attendance of 6,946 to at least 7,640 children in Summer 2015. Citiparks will introduce summer meals programs to just over 20 of its sites not currently serving meals to children and youth (a 30 per cent increase from 2014) and the YWCA will add afterschool meal programs to 11 of its partner childcare sites.

“Increasing out of school time provisions is critical to the total development of the child and helps to support the family unit in difficult economic times,” said Jim Griffin, the city’s director of Parks and Recreation. “Being able to offer programming, in addition to the meal program, will increasingly foster a sense of community in each neighborhood throughout the city of Pittsburgh.”

The grants are part of the National League of Cities’ Institute for Youth, Education & Families’ initiative: Cities Combating Hunger Through Afterschool and Summer Meal Programs. CHAMPS is made possible by a grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation and in partnership with Food Research and Action Center.

The cities were chosen based on their commitment to and experience in launching or expanding local efforts to create year-round meal opportunities for children through the federal afterschool and summer meal programs.

Under Mayor Peduto the city has reestablished ties to National League Cities, and secured $230,000 in two grants to help enroll children in Medicaid and CHIP, and won another in-kind services grant to facilitate a community conversation on early childhood education.

NLC will hold its 2016 convention in Pittsburgh, drawing 3,500 municipal leaders to the city in the year of its 200th anniversary.


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