Project Bread Launches New Texting Campaign to Help Teens Find Healthy Summer Meals
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(Boston, MA – June 28, 2011) This July, Project Bread launches a new texting campaign, Text 4 Food, to help Boston teens find a healthy lunch this summer using their favorite piece of technology — their cell phone!
The program is simple: all teens do is text 617-863-MEAL (617-863-6325 for smart phones), and they receive a text back telling them where to find a lunch program near them. When teens arrive at the summer meal site, they can enjoy a healthy meal and participate in age-appropriate activities. To spread the word about Text 4 Food, Project Bread has secured billboards in English and Spanish as well as bus stop advertisements in Boston neighborhoods.
This summer, Project Bread hopes to increase teen and preteen participation at these Summer Food Service Programs, which are federally-funded and sponsored by the USDA and which ensure that low-income children who rely on school meals have access to free breakfast and lunch in the summer.
In the past, it has been difficult to engage teens and preteens in these programs due to the difficulty of reaching them through traditional channels, such as parents or schools, and the limited availability of age-appropriate programming at the meal sites.
“Teens who would normally receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year are the most underserved population during the summer because they are working or ‘on the move’ — and yet they are rapidly growing and need nutritious food,” said Ellen Parker, executive director of Project Bread. “This means they go hungry or fill up on junk food.
“Our texting campaign will allow them to use their cell phones to find a summer food program that offers free meals in their area. Since these sites are open to all children through age 18 and require no pre-registration, teens can be mobile and still get a good meal over the summer.”
Since 1994, Project Bread has worked to increase participation in the summer meals programs in Massachusetts. Project Bread’s staff do community organizing to establish and expand summer meal programs across the state, provide technical assistance to site sponsors, and conduct outreach to generate awareness so that kids get the food they need to thrive. Project Bread works with 46 communities in Massachusetts that operate a total of 843 sites. Additionally, this year, Project Bread gave $133,000 for 166 sites in Massachusetts, providing food equipment or recreational materials to start new sites or expand existing ones. The Text 4 Food program was created thanks to the generous support of the Walmart Foundation.
“What’s important,” said Parker, “is that all children have a safe place to go to get a nutritious meal and have some summer fun so that they return to school in the fall ready to learn.”
About Project Bread
As the state’s leading antihunger organization, Project Bread is dedicated to alleviating, preventing, and ultimately ending hunger in Massachusetts. Through The Walk for Hunger, the oldest continual pledge walk in the country, Project Bread provides millions of dollars each year in privately donated funds to over 448 emergency food programs in 130 communities statewide. Project Bread also advocates systemic solutions that provide food for families in natural, everyday settings, such as schools, after-school programs, summer programs, community health centers, hospitals, and elder home care organizations. For more information, please visit www.projectbread.org.