The Blessing of the Summer event held June 23 at St. Raymond School by archdiocesan Nutritional Development Services (NDS) kicked off its Summer Meals Program. Msgr. Daniel Sullivan, an archdiocesan priest and president of the NDS board, presided over the annual blessing at St. Raymond’s in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.

NDS joins the Coalition Against Hunger, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer free meals for children during the summer from June 20 through Aug. 26 when they may not have access to nutritious food as they would during the school year.

Last summer, NDS worked with 465 sites and served 834,089 meals throughout the Philadelphia region — up 14,000 meals from the previous summer. Dedicated community leaders at participating sites work with NDS to offer children lunch and a choice of breakfast or a snack. Most Philadelphia and many suburban neighborhoods qualify for the program.

Children participating in the Summer Meal Program are invited to enter a creative writing contest and a poster contest that promotes peace in the community. Entries are due by July 22. See the website of NDS for details. (Photos by Sarah Webb)