PITTSBURGH, PA– The City of Pittsburgh is expanding its free summer breakfast, lunch, and snack program for kids and teens to more than 125 locations across the city and will begin serving meals on Monday, June 15. GrubUp will continue year-round, adding out-of-school time meals to all 10 Citiparks sites this fall.
The ambitious new program, called GrubUp, aims to serve healthy meals to at least 7,640 young people daily through August 14, a 10% increase over last year’s average daily attendance of 6,946. GrubUp will offer meals at 20 additional sites — a 30% increase from 2014 — and also feature the GrupUp Food Truck that will visit 28 different parks, pools and playgrounds from June 23 to August 7, Tuesdays through Fridays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
According to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, more than 45,000 children in Allegheny County are considered to be food insecure; 73,500 children are eligible for free or reduced-rate school lunches or breakfasts.
“In Pittsburgh, there’s always a place at the table. Our hearts – and our kitchens – are open,” said Mayor William Peduto. “These latest efforts to combat childhood hunger are part of our larger commitment to the city’s young people, including our work to improve access to health care and early childhood education.”
In addition to its expanded operational footprint and enrollment outreach, GrubUp seeks to advocate and promote healthy relationships with food through innovative programming and activities.
“Many students solely rely on free or discounted meals during the school year as their only source of nutrition and we have an obligation to meet their needs over the summer,” says Director, Department of Parks and Recreation, Jim Griffin. Adding, “We’re confident that this year’s expanded program will help more of our most vulnerable, youngest citizens.”
GrubUp is part of Live Well Pittsburgh and is made possible thanks to grants provided by the National League of Cities (NLC) and National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) funded by the Walmart Foundation. The NLC granted the City of Pittsburgh $50,000 for an awareness building campaign, GrubUp, to increase participation at meals programs across the city. NRPA awarded $30,000 in funds for nutritional education and $10,000 in educational in kind materials.
The new GrubUp program is administered by the Pittsburgh Department of Parks and Recreation (Citiparks). Annual funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Pennsylvania Department of Education and with the on-going participation of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Just Harvest.
“Like school meals, the Summer Food Program for Children is an essential part of our nation’s anti-hunger safety net,” Ken Regal, executive director of Just Harvest, said. “Locally, Just Harvest has been proud to work for more than 20 years to promote and advocate for this important community resource. Today, it is a pleasure to stand with Mayor Peduto and others to launch GrubUp Pittsburgh. GrubUp is truly a ‘next generation approach’ to enabling the next generation of Pittsburghers to grow up without hunger.”
In addition to Just Harvest, the City is working closely with multiple nonprofits in the food security space and seeks to expand its partners to ensure no child goes hungry and introduce engaging food-oriented youth programming.
Throughout the summer and into the fall, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank will host multiple Kids Cook classes at Citiparks centers. Kids Cook is a program that brings kids into the kitchen. In a series of three lessons, kids learn what a healthy plate looks like, why good nutrition is important and how to make three healthy and tasty snacks or meals.
Grow Pittsburgh will lead a curriculum training on its Edible Schoolyard program to Citiparks site directors. In addition to the training, the program provides free online access to gardening lesson and site plans, as well as healthy recipes that are pleasing to children and youth.
The City will also work with partners to host a youth day at Citiparks Farmers Markets.
GrubUp serves all children up to 18 years old as well as individuals with mental disabilities up to 21 years of age. Full program details, including a comprehensive list of locations and activities, are available at www.grubpupgh.org or by calling 412.244.3911. It can be followed on Twitter at #getyourgrubon