Summer Food Service Program expanded

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown says summer feeding programs for children is a priority he has worked on for years.

“I love that I get to work on this school lunch summer feeding program,” Brown said.

Brown authored the bipartisan Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act that expands the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to ensure Ohio children have access to nutritious meals during summer vacation.

“For children across Ohio, summer break is beginning,” Brown said. “For many families that means vacations and summer camps and barbecues, but for far, far too many others it means stress on the family over how to care for the children while parents work; how to feed children nutritious meals when they aren’t getting the school lunch and breakfast programs that they count on for most of nine months of the year.”

Brown said some 700,000 children receive the free or reduced school lunches and breakfasts across the state of Ohio.

Several sites exist in Scioto County, served by Community Action of Scioto County, including Valley Elementary School, Sciotoville Elementary Academy, Porter Township Community Park, and Bloom-Vernon Elementary, as well as others.

“Summer break shouldn’t mean going hungry, that’s why every year we work to get the word out about the Summer Food Service Program,” Brown said. “While we’re serving more meals than ever before at these sites, while they’re helping tens of thousands of children, we’re not even close to the numbers we should be to to serve these children. We need to do all we can to raise public awareness about these programs so that the families know the end of the school year doesn’t mean the end of food services.”

Wendy Huntley of the Summer Meals Programs of Northwest Ohio, said 80 percent of the students in the area where she works, Lucas County, qualify for free meals. Brown said some years ago, Huntley’s group ran around 80 sites but this year that has been expanded to 150 sites.

“It’s important and it’s vitally important that we continue to provide these nutritious meals for the children who are some of our most vulnerable residents, because they stand in need,” Huntley said. “We need to address the opportunity to engage these children in enrichment programming, so that has been part of the focus of our program as well.”

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.