Spinelli’s, Shah Foundation, YMCA Team up to Provide Meals to Children During Summer

There’s always a fear that when school ends for summer break in East Boston children that receive free or reduced breakfast and lunches during the school year might slip through the cracks and become food insecure during vacation.  Many children in Eastie depend on school breakfast and lunches as their main source of nutrition.  For many of these young children it becomes more difficult to get the nutritious foods they need to grow healthy and strong during the summer Thanks to a new partnership between Spinelli’s, the Shah Family Foundation and the YMCA children 18 and younger will be guaranteed a hot meal this summer. 

All students ages 18 and under can now go to Spinelli’s in Day Square and receive a hot, freshly made, breakfast and lunch combo meal.  Students can grab meals at Spinelli’s seven-days-a-week between 11:00 am – 5:00 p.m. and is available for any students in and around the Boston area and no identification is required.  Through the new program all students have to do is go to the counter at Spinelli’s and ask for the “Local Lunchbox Special.”

“Spinelli’s is pleased to continue to partner with the Shah Family Foundation and the Greater Boston YMCA supporting our neighbors who may be dealing with food insecurity which has been exacerbated and become more visible during the pandemic,” said Spinelli’s owners The Roberto Family in a statement. “We are humbled and honored to serve our community.”  

The program is run in partnership with the YMCA and the Shah Family Foundation and paid for with federal funding through the USDA Summer Meals Program.  The Shah Family Foundation first piloted the Local Lunchbox program in Chelsea during the pandemic and last month celebrated the program’s millionth meal.  The new partnership with Spinelli’s is the first-of-its-kind in which these free, federally-funded meals will be provided at a retail location, and the foundation is currently working with other restaurants throughout Boston to develop similar programs.

“The extreme circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis served for all of us as the mother of invention,” said Shah Family Foundation President Jill Shah. “Through Local Lunchbox, we leveraged increases in federal funding to create a new food distribution model – one that puts the money back into the local economy by using locally-produced foods to cook culturally-relevant meals and create dozens of local jobs. We’re excited to expand this program to East Boston in partnership with Spinelli’s and make it easier than ever for students to access free, healthy food.”

Spinelli’s and the East Boston Y have already been partnering throughout the pandemic to provide home cooked nutritious meals to kids.  East Boston Y Executive Director Joe Gaeta was thrilled to be able to expand the program seven days a week throughout the summer.  “As we continue to combat food insecurity in East Boston we are thrilled to partner with Spinellis and the Shah Family Foundation to be able to offer this seven days a week program so that none of our youth go hungry this summer,” said Gaeta. “This program is a game changer in East Boston, the community is rebounding and we at the East Boston Y are happy to be an integral piece.” For more information on the program visit LocalLunchbox.org.

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