ODE seeks summer food sponsors, sites

Staff report

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 Summer Food Service Program works to feed thousands of children in Ohio. Many Ohio parents and caregivers are forced to make difficult decisions daily in order to provide for their families.

“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, and low-income housing complexes, among other venues.

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.

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; 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 deadline to sponsor or become a site is Friday, March 1. Visit education.ohio.gov.

Staff report