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With the help of numerous sponsoring agencies and stakeholders, the Summer Food Service Program feeds thousands of children in Ohio. Since 2014, Ohio has increased participation in the program by 10 percent.
Despite these numbers, many Ohio parents and caregivers continue to make difficult choices every day 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.
"The need for healthy meals doesn't stop when school breaks for the summer, and the Summer Food Service Program helps provide children with nourishment to make sure summer can be a time for continued learning and fun," said Paolo DeMaria, superintendent of public instruction. "Instead of worrying about where their next meal 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.
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.
The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Education challenge sponsors to expand the "One More Challenge" in communities around the state. Sponsors will take on "One More Site," "One More Meal," or "One More Week" to increase the number of meals served this summer.
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.
Any organization interested in becoming a sponsor or site should complete the potential sponsor survey.
Potential sponsors interested in participating in the 2017 program should complete the survey no later than Friday, March 3.