School may be out, but Stark County schools and nonprofit organizations are working together to be sure kids get the nutrition they need this summer. Children 18 years and younger can access meals at multiple locations throughout the county, usually regardless of school district or family income. These programs aim to address food insecurity and ensure that children stay healthy in the summer months.
Schools and Nutrition
Proper nutrition is vital to a child’s overall wellbeing. Nutrition plays a crucial role in maintaining stable energy, growing strong bones and teeth, improving mental health, maintaining a healthy weight, and preventing chronic diseases. A lack of proper nutrition negatively impacts a child’s physical, mental, and academic development.
According to the CDC, schools play an important role in ensuring children have access to healthy food. They also, “are in a unique position to provide students with opportunities to learn about and practice healthy eating behaviors.” When schools close for the summer, many families are often left facing food insecurity. In fact, Feeding America estimates that 1 in 7 Ohio children face hunger.
Fighting Summer Food Insecurity
Stephanie Sweany, director of Stark County Hunger Task Force told the Canton Repository’s Kelli Weir, “Hunger can have many negative effects on a child’s physical and mental development,” Sweany said. “Providing weekend meals throughout the summer months can help set up a child for success as they go into the next school year.”
The Repository compiled a list of sites in Stark County that will be offering meals for children this summer. They note, “Unless specified otherwise, any child who is 18 years old or younger can get a free meal at each of the listed sites, regardless of their family’s income level. Children with disabilities and approved individual education programs can be up to age 21 and still participate.
Children must eat the meals at the site, except where the meal is being provided through a backpack program or in a drive-up format. The child does not have to be a student in the school district where the food site is located. No registration is required.”
Below is the Repository’s full list of where parents and guardians can find free meals for their children:
Alliance City Schools will offer free meals Mondays through Thursdays at the following sites and times:
- Alliance Middle School, breakfast from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. through July 29.
- Alliance Elementary, breakfast from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to noon through June 30.
- Alliance Early Learning School, breakfast from 8:45 to 9:15 a.m. and lunch from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. through Aug. 9.
Brown Local Schools will serve breakfast from 8:30 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Mondays through Fridays until June 15 inside the Malvern school cafeteria. Meals also will be served at the same times between Aug. 1 and Aug. 18.
Through Aug. 4, the Stark County Hunger Task Force and the Stark Library are offering bags of food for children between the ages of 3 and 18 as part of their summer backpack program. Children do not need to be present.
Bags of food are available for pickup in Canton at the:
- Stark Library’s Main Library from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays
- Madge Youtz Branch from 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays
- DeHoff Community Branch from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays
Food also will be distributed at six Canton bookmobile locations:
- Schreiber Elementary: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays
- Linwood: Noon to 1 p.m. Tuesdays
- Creek’s Crossing: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays
- Jackson Sherrick: 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursdays
- Skyline Terrace: 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Thursdays
- Mahoning Manor: 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Fridays
Through Aug. 11, the hunger task force also will offer free meals from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at the Ken Weber Community Campus at Goodwill at 408 Ninth St. SW. A photo ID is required.
The Canton Local School District will provide breakfast from 8:30 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 to 11:30 a.m. at Canton South Middle School on Mondays through Thursdays in June.
Through Aug. 4, Carrollton Local Schools will serve breakfast from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays and lunch from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays in Carrollton High School/Middle School cafeteria. Meal package pickup will be available from 9:30 a.m. to noon Thursdays.
Through Aug. 12, the Massillon Public Library and Stark County Hunger Task Force will provide a free bag of food to children ages 3 to 18 at the library’s Barry Askren Memorial branch and its Pam S. Belloni Memorial branch. Each bag will include two breakfasts, two lunches and two snacks. Bags will be available during regular library hours while supplies last. Children do not need to be present to receive the bags.
Through Aug. 14, Love Our Community is offering free lunches from noon to 2 p.m. Mondays and dinners from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at Memorial Park’s closed pavilion at 335 Park Lane Drive SW. Delivery may be available upon request by calling 330-961-1212. Meals are available to all ages.
Marlington Local Schools will serve breakfast from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at Marlington Middle School through Aug. 10. No meals will be served on July 4, July 28, Aug. 1 or Aug. 4.
From July 12 to July 14, the district also will serve lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. daily at Maranatha Ministries at 14289 Edison St. NE.
From July 17 to July 21, the district also will serve breakfast from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. daily at Maranatha Ministries.
Through Aug. 4, Massillon City Schools will offer meals from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at Washington High School.
The district’s food truck also will be serving food from noon to 1 p.m. at the following locations and days:
- Mondays: Walnut Hills, playground and pavilion area at Osage and Dixon Hilltop.
- Wednesdays: Corner of Tremont and Eighth Street.
- Fridays: Reservoir Park’s large pavilion off Sippo Boulevard NE.
Through Aug. 11, the Massillon Public Library and Stark County Hunger Task Force will provide a free bag of food to children ages 3 to 18 as part of its Summer Food Backpack program. Each bag will include two breakfasts, two lunches and two snacks. Bags will be available during regular library hours while supplies last. Children do not need to be present to receive the bags.
Through Aug. 4, the Massillon Family YMCA is offering breakfast from 7 to 8 a.m. and lunch from noon to 12:45 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Minerva Local Schools is providing meals at the same time as its summer enrichment programs as follows:
- From June 26 to June 30, breakfast will be served daily from 8 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch will be served from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in Minerva Elementary’s cafeteria.
- In July, breakfast will be served from 8 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch will be served from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays in Minerva Elementary’s cafeteria.
Through Aug. 4, Perry Local Schools will be serving breakfast from 7:30 to 10 a.m. and lunch from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at Perry High School. Enter Door No. 1. Adults can purchase breakfast for $1.75 and lunch for $3.75.
Through Aug. 11, Plain Local Schools will provide lunch from noon to 1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays in the Ellisdale Community Building at 3809 31st St. NE. Meals will not be served June 19, July 3 and July 4.
Through Aug. 4, the Stark County Hunger Task Force and the Stark Library are offering bags of food for children between the ages of 3 and 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fridays at the library’s bookmobile stop at Ellisdale Homes. Children do not need to be present.
Through Aug. 4, the Stark County Hunger Task Force and the Stark Library are offering bags of food for children between the ages of 3 and 18 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays at the library’s Sandy Valley branch. Children do not need to be present.
Sebring Local Schools will serve free meals through a drive-up format at its cafeteria door at McKinley High School from 11 to 11:30 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays. At least one child in a group must be enrolled at Sebring Local Schools.