By Madison Brunner – 

Located just outside of Pittsburgh, Braddock has the second-highest number of senior citizens living alone and in poverty in Allegheny County. In under-served communities, two of the most vulnerable population groups are older adults and young children.

A summer nutrition program created by students from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health aims to combat this problem by offering a free, balanced lunch to both young children and older adults who otherwise may not be able to afford one.

Called “Assembly of the Ages,” an inaugural event organized with local non-profit Heritage Community Initiatives brought together people under the age of 18 and over 55 for an afternoon of games and activities while they enjoyed a gourmet, chef-prepared lunch. At the event on July 18, seniors and children bonded as they wrote down personal goals in areas of wellness, nutrition, activities and social interaction. After lunch, seniors watched as the children played a game of kickball.

“The purpose of the program is to make sure families don’t have to make the difficult choice between paying a bill in the summer or putting food on the table for their children,” said Laura Kelley, director of business development at Heritage Community Initiatives, which serves about 50 meals and snacks daily in the summer to children in Braddock who qualify for the free lunch program during the school year.