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BROOKLINE (KDKA) — School is out, and while that’s a happy time for most kids, it can be tough for children who rely on free school lunches.

Anti-hunger advocates came together Friday at Moore Park in Brookline to kick off the city’s free summer meal program. The goal for them is to make sure kids have fun and don’t worry about where their next meal is coming from.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Intern Danielle Dindak)

Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward supports the program and during the event, he educated children on the importance of nutritious meals.

“I think this is great for the community and kids, you know. I think just getting the word out there is huge,” he said. “So many people don’t know about this program, so when you hear ‘free’, you need to take advantage of it.”

According to the USDA, 70,000 children in Allegheny County are eligible for free summer food programs, but only 10,000 of them take advantage. For families, it can cost an additional $300 a month to feed their kids when school is out, making programs like this crucial.

As a bonus for attending summer food programs, sponsors are giving out two free Steelers tickets. The families involved in the food programs can be eligible.

“I would love them, but I’m actually playing, so I can’t take advantage of them,” Heyward joked. “It is a great opportunity for a lot of kids and great way to push them towards it.”

The free meal service is for children 18 years and younger. So, where can you find the closest summer program?

There are websites you can visit and phone numbers you can call to help find local programs:
• TEXT “summermeals” to 9779
• CALL the Hunger Hotline 1-866-3-HUNGRY