“It’s unfortunate but many West Virginia children rely on school meals for their main nutrition,” said West Virginia Superintendent Steve Paine. “That need does not go away when school is not in session. The Summer Food Service Program was critical in making sure that low-income children continued to grow and learn during the summer months.”
The Summer Food Program is the largest federal resource available for local programs that combine mealtime with recreational and educational activities. In 2009, the program served about 15,000 children. Although final numbers are still being calculated for 2010, more than 16,000 were served. Meals and snacks were served at schools, parks, pools, housing complexes, churches and community buildings located in low-income areas or in programs that serve children from low income households.
This year marked the first time the West Virginia Department of Education partnered with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR), which has contributed to the growth. Participating agencies included 104 local boards of education, parks and recreation, colleges and universities, community action agencies, churches and other faith based groups.
“Thanks to the WVDHHR, we were able to increase the number of sites that feed children by 25 percent from 489 in 2009 to 610 in 2010,” said Rick Goff, director of the WVDE Office of Child Nutrition.
Jason Najmulski, commissioner of the DHHR’s Bureau for Children and Families, said the WVDHHR was pleased to partner with the WVDE Office of Child Nutrition to help deserving West Virginia children.
“Without our combined effort, many children would not have received proper or sufficient meals during the summer school recess or been able to participate in quality summer activities,” Najmulski said.
For more information, contact Gloria Cunningham with the Office of Child Nutrition at (304) 558-3396, or the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.