A first-year effort by Tioga Outreach Center has helped provide summer food and fun for local children.
The center, a division of Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga, offered free meals to Tioga County residents ages 5-18. Taking place every Monday through Friday from July 5-29, the program was held at the outreach center on Roki Boulevard in Nichols, at the former Nichols Elementary School.
From 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., young people got to enjoy a full meal and snacks as well as games and craft activities. In addition, on Fridays the children and their parents were afforded the opportunity to bring home various canned and dry foods for the weekend.
According to Julia Massaro, program specialist, the effort drew 15 to 20 youths per day and was enthusiastically received by participants. The outreach center was one of numerous locations countywide to offer free lunch as part of an initiative by the Tioga County Anti-Hunger Task Force. Massaro noted that the program is a vital one, since the poverty rate in Tioga County is just over 20 percent.
"So there’s definitely a need here," she said.