With so many families struggling to make ends meet, many Ohio children are living in “food insecure” households, where parents don’t always have the resources to provide enough healthy food for their families. During the 2012-2013 school year, 630,000 Ohio children daily received free or reduced-priced school lunches through the National School Lunch Program, ensuring their healthy development and easing the burden on their families. When schools close for summer, however, these families are left wondering how to continue to provide meals for their children. Fortunately, through the Summer Food Service Program, children can receive breakfast, lunch, or a snack at sites across Ohio.
The Summer Food Service Program, a joint venture of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Ohio Department of Education, provides a critical resource to families who need assistance feeding their children but many families don’t know it’s available. Right now, these sites are underutilized. Last summer, only 66,000 Ohio children daily participated in the program, compared to the hundreds of thousands who do so during the school year. Food security doesn’t increase simply because it is summer. What this means is that children are going without. And that is unacceptable.
If you find that your children need meal assistance, I urge you to participate in this program. You can also be a resource to your friends and neighbors, helping raise awareness about the nearly 1,700 summer camps, schools, churches, synagogues, pools and recreation centers, and other organizations that host Summer Feeding Program sites in Ohio.
Healthy, well-fed children are essential to a strong community and we must ensure that children have the resources they need to thrive both while during the school-year and on summer break.
To find a Summer Food Service Program in your county, please visit https://oh.cnpcares.com/summer/SfspFoodServByCnty.asp. Families can also call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3HUNGRY for assistance in English and 1-877-8HAMBRE for assistance in Spanish.