Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition helps bring more free meals to County Youth
This year’s USDA Summer Food Service Program has been significantly expanded in Cumberland County as a result of the efforts of the Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition. The county will enjoy at least 3 new sponsors and 20 new sites where children can receive free and nutritionally balanced lunches this summer.
According to data provided by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, in 2014, 88% of youth in Cumberland County who were eligible for the Summer Food Service Program did not receive its benefits. In the January meeting of the Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition, Tracy Swan, Sr. Project Coordinator, Walter Rand Institute, tasked its Members with establishing at least one new site for summer 2015 in each of the three major municipalities: Bridgeton, Millville, and Vineland.
City of Bridgeton Mayor, Albert Kelly, who chairs the Coalition’s Greater Bridgeton Area Breakout Group, was eager to accept the challenge. “We’re all familiar with the research that shows how important proper nutrition is to good health and learning, so it’s hard to overstate how important the in-school program is for these youngsters. But when summer comes and the school year ends, so does the access to these meals. That’s why the Summer Food Service Program is critical as a way to help children maintain good health and nutrition over the summer break…”
Data shows that when children have proper nutrition, they are better able to listen, learn, and behave. In fact, a lack of proper nutrients actually changes brain chemistry and creates an inability in youth to control their behavior. Since there is such a strong connection between nutrition and behavior, Coalition members felt it was vital to bring the Summer Food Service Program to more youth in the county.
Coalition members are pleased that they have exceeded the challenge given to them by Tracy Swan. Five new sites have been established in Vineland, two in Millville, and 13 in Bridgeton this summer. Tracy exclaimed, “We are ecstatic that the Coalition not only embraced the challenge, but basically hit it out of the ball park. Coalition members went above and beyond to ensure that hundreds of additional Cumberland County youth will be well-fed this summer. And since many of the new sites are also offering programming for youth, it is our hope that not only will these youth have a well-balanced lunch, but will also be engaged and occupied during the day, lessening any temptation to get into trouble.”
If you want information about local Summer Food Service Program sites text Food to 877-877. Once you text this number, you will be prompted to give your street address, city and zip code. When you reply, you will be given contact information for the food service sites closest to you.
Cumberland County 2015 Summer Food Service Sites by Municipality:
Amity Heights Apartments
John Wesley United
Country Side Apartments
Temple Vision Corporation ALMS Center
West Avenue School
Bridgeton High School
Buckshutem Road School
Everett P. Marino Center
Bridgeton Villa Apartments
Greater Bridgeton Family Success Center
Burlington Manor Apartments
First United Methodist
St. John’s United Methodist Church
Trinity United Methodist Church
Holly City Family Center
Holly Berry Court
Holly City Family Success Center
Lakeside Summer Camps
Child Family Center
Cumberland County College/GEARUP
Vineland High School North
Landis Middle School
YMCA of Vineland
Higher Places Ministries
Boys and Girls Club of Vineland
Girl Scouts of Central and Southern New Jersey
Cunningham Alternative School
Visions of Hope
Port Norris Middle School 21st Century Summer Program
About the Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition
The Cumberland County Positive Youth Development Coalition is the first countywide juvenile delinquency effort in the state of New Jersey, funded by the NJ Attorney General’s Office and Cumberland County Freeholders. Started within the city of Vineland, the coalition expanded to a countywide effort in 2013. The Coalition brings together stakeholders from a number of sectors including education, law enforcement, social services, faith-based organizations, and youth serving organizations, in order to reduce juvenile delinquency and prevent those already involved in the juvenile system from becoming involved in the adult criminal justice system. Staffing and technical assistance is provided to the Coalition by the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers University – Camden.
About the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs
The Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs, Rutgers University–Camden, addresses public policy issues impacting Southern New Jersey, through applied research, community engagement, and organizational development.