Last week, Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02) and Project Bread loaded up on burgers, veggies, games and fun to tour Summer Eats sites throughout Central Massachusetts. Our Summer Food Rocks Tour makes stops at Massachusetts’ Summer Eats sites, where you can get free meals for children and teens all through the summer. Many Summer Eats sites also provide fun activities and plenty of time to catch up with friends under the sun.
Congressman McGovern “headlined” the ninth year of the Summer Food Rocks Tour, but we had many strong “supporting acts,” such as Robert Leshin, Director of Food and Nutrition Programs in Massachusetts, Lizbeth Silbermann, Northeast Regional Director at USDA, and many others to talk about the importance of Summer Eats in Massachusetts.
"Child hunger is a national security issue," Congressman McGovern said. "Child hunger is an economic development issue. Child hunger is a healthcare issue, a small business issue, and I can go right down the list."
"These sites that we are visiting today," Congressman McGovern continued, "are not just about the well being of are families and communities. They are directly tied to our country's future and our progress in the world."
In July and August of 2021, Summer Eats provided more than 7.5 million meals, and this year there are over 700 Summer Eats sites. Project Bread also awarded 38 grants totaling $187,000 to Summer Eats sites this year for things such as refrigerators, equipment, and additional personnel for sites. Right away, the team hit the road.
The first stop of the Tour was at the Chestnut Hill Community School in Belchertown. Colorful signs led the way and children found the entertainment much to their liking. Ice cream, drawstring bags, sunglasses and other swag brought in loud, happy crowds (the bouncy balls were the showstopper). The Summer Food Rocks Tour also took some time to chat with longtime Summer Eats fan, State Representative Jacob Oliveira, who was enthused with this year’s stellar lineup.
After Belchertown, the tour hit the road and headed to the Mill River Recreation Area in Amherst. This Summer Eats site is sponsored by UMass Dining and features the UMass mobile food truck, Baby Berk 2. Korean barbeque sandwiches were high on the menu, with a quick (or not so quick) cooldown in the public pool. Congressman McGovern put on an excellent show, but played second fiddle to the Project Bread Prize Wheel, where kids could take a spin for a variety of prizes. State Representative Mindy Domb let us know she was excited to catch the Tour live.
The Summer Food Rocks Tour rounded up their last stop at the Cristoforo Colombo (East) Park in Worcester. The Worcester Public School food truck offered milk, fruit, and veggies as part of their meals, which hit nice and cool on a hot summer day. Children could eat at the park, or take the meals home as part of this Summer Eats site’s grab-and-go program. It was a hard choice between staying and leaving, especially as the spray park nearby offered one last chance to chill out after a full, fun day.
Throughout the day, Congressman McGovern and the members of the Summer Food Rocks Tour reminded communities how important Summer Eats is to local communities. Many Summer Eats sites are run by schools and other local organizations. The meals offered by Summer Eats sites are free and available to children and teens 18 or younger without I.D. or registration. All sites you can sit down and eat, and some sites offer grab-and-go meals.
Thank you for joining us on our ninth Summer Food Rocks tour! We want to thank our rockstars, not just the sponsors on tour, but those rockstars at our Summer Eats sites making those meals you love so much.
And, as always, if you live in Massachusetts and want to learn more about programs to boost your food budget, call into Project Bread’s toll-free FoodSource Hotline (1-800-645-8333). We provide confidential assistance to connect with a number of food resources, including Summer Eats and SNAP benefits, in 180 languages and for the hearing impaired. For more information, visit: www.projectbread.org/get-help.