City launches Summer Meals program at Lawncrest Rec

Mayor Kenney, former Eagle Jason Avant and others attended a ceremony in Lawncrest marking the start of a program that provides free meals to children and teens.

Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant played basketball with kids at Lawncrest Recreation Center during the kickoff event. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

Mayor Jim Kenney, former Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant and others gathered last week at Lawncrest Recreation Center and drank milk out of small paper cup during a ceremonial toast kicking off the city’s Summer Meals program.

The program offers free and nutritious meals to children and teenagers when schools are closed. So far, more than 700 locations in the city have registered as host sites for the program, including Lawncrest Rec, 6000 Rising Sun Ave.

“When schools are out, our children continue to learn and grow and play, and many look forward to fun activities with their families and friends,” Kenney said at the June 18 event. “But summertime can also mean that they don’t have access to a nutritious meal during the day.”

Avant, who caught 12 touchdown passes in eight seasons with the Eagles, played basketball and other games with kids at the playground. He urged families to take advantage of the Summer Meals program.

Children receive free food at Lawncrest Recreation Center as part of the city’s Summer Meals program, which aims to provide kids with nutrition while schools are closed. JACK TOMCZUK / TIMES PHOTO

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Avant said. “I’m from the South Side of Chicago, one of the worst areas in the country, and I wish I would have had an opportunity to get a free meal.”

The program is federally-funded and managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Sponsors include the Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation and Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

To find nearby summer meal sites, call the hotline at 855-252-MEAL, text FOOD to 877-877 or visit PhillySummerMeals.org. ••