The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

January 14, 2013

Organizations sought to feed kids this summer


CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Department of Education is looking for organizations across the state to help feed children and provide supervised activities during the summer.

County boards of education and other non-profit organizations can participate in the Summer Food Program, which encourages communities to provide safe places for children and teenagers 18 and under. Organizations receive funds to provide meals to complement recreational and educational programs. Feeding sites include schools, churches, community centers, pools, parks, housing complexes and summer camps.

“The Summer Food Program draws children into supervised activities that are safe, fun and filled with learning opportunities,” said West Virginia Superintendent Jim Phares. “Children benefit nutritionally by receiving complete, wholesome meals, while parents benefit by stretching their food dollars.”

While children have access to school meals throughout the school year, those meals end when school is out for the summer months. The Summer Food Program was created to ensure that children in lower-income areas could continue to receive nutritious meals during summer break.  An average of 187,000 children in West Virginia, about 56 percent of schoolchildren, depend on free and reduced-price meals at school, yet only 13,251 receive the free meals provided by the Summer Food Program.

“There were 452 Summer Food Program sites in West Virginia in 2012 that provided nutritious meals to children and we believe many organizations will renew their commitment for 2013,” Phares said. “We are hopeful that new organizations will opt to join us so the number of sites can grow.”

Upcoming summer sites will be announced in May 2013. Organizations involved in the 2012 Summer Food Program are posted at http://static.k12.wv.us/ocn/2012-summer-food-organization.pdf.

For more information on the Summer Food Program, contact the Office of Child Nutrition at 304-558-3396, or by e-mail gjcunnin@access.k12.wv.us, or the Office of Communication at 304-558-2699.