Senator Sherrod Brown is alerting Ohioans to a program that fights child hunger during the summer months. The Summer Food Service Program allows children to receive meals during the months when school is out.
The U.S. national free or reduced-price school lunch program has long been a valuable safety net to help families get through difficult times. The summer program is meant to fill in the gap between the school years.
School meals for children from the 1930s to the present day. (photos courtesy Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Children's Hunger Alliance of Ohio)
Tough economic times call for help. Senator Brown says, "More than two out of every five Ohio students now qualifies for a reduced-price or free lunch. That’s a statistic that says so much about the number of families still struggling to get by—and how children are often helpless victims in a challenging economy."
The summer program faces challenges as feeding sites are not readily available with schools closed. Right now, a startling 33 Ohio counties do not even have a feeding site. Even if one is established, there is the issue of transporting children there.
Brown says, "We must do more not only to bring more summer feeding sites within reach to more Ohio families, but to ensure that these families are made aware of this important program that will provide their children with free, healthy meals all summer long."
This is a problem in many states. One possible solution being tested around the country is the mobile pantry. The Arizona Republic reports on the Nutrition Express, a bus that carries meals to apartment complexes.
Another initiative being tested in Ohio is a type of summer backpack plan where children can take home rations.