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Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders join Swoop to help kick off summer meal program for kids in Harrowgate

Special guests help kick off summer meal program for kids in Philadelphia
Special guests help kick off summer meal program for kids in Philadelphia 02:25

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Food in the hands of children is always cause for celebration.

Philadelphia on Tuesday hosted a kickoff party for the summer meals programs with special guests, including Eagles cheerleaders, mascot Swoop and various vendors with special giveaways for kids.

The party took place at Heitzman Recreation Center, one of the city's more than 500 free summer meal sites. Dave Trautz, who lives just down the street from the rec center, brought his five grandchildren who live with him. 

"They can come here every day," Trautz said. "That would be very helpful, especially with school being out for the summer. They're able to stay healthy."

His granddaughter, Annalyse Klein, agrees.

"It can help us afford meals and healthy foods," Klein said.

According to a report released last month by Feeding America, child food insecurity in Philadelphia is steadily rising. The most recent data from Philadelphia County reveals a 30.4% rate of child food insecurity in 2022. That's nearly 5% higher than the year before, when it was 25.5%.

A bar chart shows that the child food insecurity rate in 2017 was 21.3%, compared to 30.4% in 2022.
Feeding America

Trautz said free meal programs are especially helpful given the price of groceries.

"Everything's going up, and it's getting harder for every family," Trautz said.

Knowing his grandchildren are well-fed gives Trautz peace of mind.  

Kids up to age 18 are eligible for the meals. On the city's website, you can search by location to find the closest site near you and the times the meals are served. City officials say they want to make it as easy as possible.

"All children and families have a place where kids can get nutritious meals over the summer without showing an ID," said Laura Crandall, director of food security initiatives for the Office of Children and Families. "They can just show up and eat."

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