The Ohio Department of Education is announcing the Summer Food Service program, which works to feed thousands of Ohio children.
Officials note since 2014, the state has increased participation in the program by 10 percent.
However; they recognize that many Ohio parents and caregivers are still forced to make difficult decisions daily to provide for their families. In many cases, this leaves children and youth struggling with hunger.
This year, the Ohio Department of Education wants to increase participation in summer meal programs and is actively seeking local nonprofit agencies to participate as sponsors or sites by providing free meals to children.
“The need for healthy meals doesn’t stop when school breaks for the summer,” said Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction. “The Summer Food Service Program helps provide children with nourishment to make sure summer can be a time for continued learning and fun. Instead of worrying about where their next meals will come from, our students can enjoy activities like reading, sports, playing outdoors and the growing that happens during the summer months.”
Free meals are provided at schools, colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, parks, camps, community centers, swimming pools, libraries, low-income housing complexes and more.
Sponsoring organizations receive reimbursement to cover the costs of providing nutritious meals and snacks to children in eligible areas. Nonprofit organizations offering summer activities for children living in low-income areas also are encouraged to apply.
Expansion of the program is particularly needed in southern Ohio counties, where families struggle with food insecurity, as well as in rural communities and areas where migrant families reside.
The Summer Food Service Program ensures that children ages 1-18 continue to receive nutritious meals during the summer break from school when they do not have access to school breakfast or lunch. Children with disabilities and approved individualized education programs may participate through age 21.
A sponsoring organization must be:
- A public or nonprofit private school;
- A public or nonprofit private residential summer camp;
- A unit of local, municipal, county or state government;
- A public or nonprofit college or university; or
- A private nonprofit organization.
The Summer Food Service Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Ohio Department of Education.
Any organization interested in becoming a sponsor or site should complete the potential sponsor survey no later than Friday, March 2.