CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. --The United Way is making a big donation to make sure no child in the Capital Region goes hungry with its kickoff of the "Summer Food Kick-Off Day" beginning Tuesday.
The event took place throughout the Capital Region in Albany, Saratoga, Schenectady and Troy, Monday through Friday during the summer break, in an effort to provide lunches to children under 18 in families who may be struggling to make ends meet.
Aalyia, 10, is one of 1,000 children who visit various sites in Schenectady during the summer to get a free lunch. She said she's been coming to the Jerry Burrell Park site for about three years now.
"The best part is that everybody gets to eat here and everybody gets to have fun and everyone gets treated the same," she said.
About 80 percent of children in the Schenectady County's School system get free lunches during the school year, but officials say only one in six children in the Capital Region receive the summer meals.
Over the years, coordinators of the program in Schenectady say there's been a lack of awareness about the free lunches, but this summer the program is expanding in hopes of reaching out to more children in high poverty areas.
New York State ranks third in the nation, reaching one in four children who receive free and reduced price lunch. In the Capital Region, though, only one in six kids actually receive those meals.
The United Way has invested $85,000 to create new sites and to expand existing sites that offer these food programs. The goal is to help provide more than 25,000 meals and feed more than 400 children.
-- In Albany County, the Summer Food event will take place at Sheridan Park in Arbor Hill from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
-- In Saratoga County, the Summer Food event will take place at the Clifton Park & Halfmoon Emergency Corps from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
-- In Schenectady County, the Summer Food event will take place at Jerry Burrell Park from 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. on the corner of Hamilton and Schenectady streets
-- In Rensselaer County, the Summer Food event will take place at the Troy Boys and Girls Club from noon-2 p.m.
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