(Ohio) – With the help of numerous sponsoring agencies and stakeholders, the Summer Food Service Program works to feed thousands of children in Ohio.
Despite these numbers, many Ohio parents and caregivers are forced to make difficult decisions daily in order to provide for their families. In many cases, this leaves Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens, our children, and youth, struggling with hunger daily.
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.
“During the summer months, many children worry about access to nutritious meals when they should be focused on fun activities and independent learning,” said Paolo DeMaria, state superintendent of public instruction. “The Summer Food Service Program helps fill this need in our communities by providing healthy meals in locations where students spend much of their time during the summer. The program means students can focus on what is most important during this time – playing, reading, being outdoors and growing.”
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 1.