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Island Harvest helping feed thousands of children on Long Island during summer break

Island Harvest providing healthy meals for Long Island camps
Island Harvest providing healthy meals for Long Island camps 02:09

WYANDANCH, N.Y. - With school now out for the season, some parents who rely on school breakfasts and lunches have the added worry of how to feed their children.

Nearly 2,000 children on Long Island will now have healthy meals at camp. 

Summer fun has begun across Long Island. 

"My favorite thing about camp is the way that they treat us so kindly," one camper said. 

At a camp in Wyandanch, kids get more than healthy activities and role models. They're also getting healthy meals. 

"Being healthy is key," one camper said. 

Island Harvest Food Bank is distributing 50,000 federally funded meals this summer to Long Island children in need at 29 sites. 

"The kids who are going to school all year and they access free breakfast and lunch, those families now have to figure out where they are going to go to get their next meals," Allison Puglia, of Island Harvest, said. "There are many kids across Long Island who don't know where their next meal is going to be."

Across the nation, children in more than 12% of households live with food insecurity, according to the Department of Agriculture. 

Some children served by the Gerald Ryan Outreach Center camp live in homeless shelters and foster care. 

"Mom might be in jail. Dad may be around, he could be abusive. We have orders of protections for some children," said Joe Gibbons, board president of the Gerald Ryan Outreach Center. "Food is very important. A lot of these children will not have dinner tonight, so food is paramount." 

"In the morning, they are very hungry when they come in. We provide them lunch through Island Harvest, as well, and we purchase snacks. If they are hungry and we have anything leftover, our center here makes sure they take something home," said Naycha Florival, youth director at the Gerald Ryan Outreach Center.

It comes from a fully stocked food pantry that also offers clothing. It's kindness that pays dividends. 

Campers often return as counselors. Florival is a former camper herself.

"I know how hard it was for my family growing up, so it means a lot to me. We've had campers that have come back who have become lawyers, some of them who are doctors, some of them who are nurses," Florival said. 

The food is not only available to children under age 18 at various summer programs but also at some libraries and parks through Island Harvest throughout the summer.

Click here for a complete list of locations for the summer food program through Island Harvest. 

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