JERSEY CITY — Former New York Yankee player Pat Kelly and Jersey City Superintendent of Schools Dr. Marcia Lyles were all in attendance at Lincoln Park on Friday as Jersey City announced its participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Free Summer Meals initiative this summer.
At the event, held on Lincoln Park’s Turf 1 field, children learned about the importance of eating nutritious meals in the summer once school is out and raised awareness for the USDA run Free Summer Meals program that Jersey City will take part in this summer.
With Free Summer Meals, Jersey City will provide all children and teens ages 18 and under with free meals all summer long. The meals will be distributed throughout Jersey City at locations including schools, parks and pools.
“We know how important it is for students to be nutritionally and physically sound” Lyles said.
“We are very proud to be able to partner with the department of recreation so that all young people under the age of 18 can come and have a nutritional meal, she added. “I’m looking forward to a good summer for all of us.”
Free meals will be available to kids in Jersey City from June 27 until the end of August (the end date is yet to be determined).
Kelly spoke to children about the importance of eating healthy, and a calf brought by dairy farmer Matt Puskas from his farm in Middlebush was also on hand.
Kelly attended the event as a representative of the Yankees, who are partnering with the American Dairy Association by doing weekly Yankees gift pack giveaways during the summer to reward kids for eating healthy.
“For us from the Yankees standpoint, we want kids to be healthy,” Kelly said. “It’s a good way get kids healthy and expose them to sports or something else.”
“The program is phenomenal,” he added. “As a kid when I was growing up in the Allentown-Bethlehem area I didn’t have breakfast in the morning. Now you just have to go down to the park and it’s there for you, which is fantastic during the summer time.”
The event featured students dancing to music on the field, doing exercises in the stands, and receiving free milk cartons from the American Dairy Association.
After receiving their milk cartons, students walked over to a corner of the field where Puskas was waiting with his calf. Puskas gave students the chance to observe the calf while he spoke to them about how cows are cared for and how the milk for the summer meals program gets from farms to the kids in the summer.
By: LORENZO GAZZOLA