Hundreds of Food Sites Offer Free Meals to Children through the Summer Food Service Program

Posted: June 10, 2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va - Thousands of West Virginia schoolchildren will continue to be fed through the summer thanks to the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The WVDE announced that more than 400 summer food sites will be participating in the program to provide free and nutritious meals for preschool and school age children.

The SFSP is sponsored by WVDE Office of Child Nutrition and provides funds to county school boards of education and other non-profit organizations to help feed hungry kids every summer. Participating agencies include local boards of education, parks and recreation, colleges and universities, community action agencies, churches and other faith based groups. A full list of locations can be found here: http://wvde.state.wv.us/ocn-download/Forms/SFSP/2013/SFSP_SiteMap2013.pdf

"During the summer, some schoolchildren have limited access to nutritious meals," said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares. "The Summer Food Service Program is designed to fill the nutrition gap and make sure our kids remain healthy and active."

While children have access to school meals throughout the school year as part of the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs, those meals end when school is out for the summer months. An average of 58 percent of West Virginia schoolchildren depend on free and reduced-price meals at school. The Summer Food Service Program ensures that children in lower-income areas continue to receive free, nutritious meals during summer break.

"It is very important to feed children healthy meals because hunger doesn't take a summer vacation," said Jim Harmon with United States Department of Agriculture. "Our partnership with the West Virginia Department of Education, Office of Child Nutrition, allows them to identify agencies, and our office to provide funds for summer feeding sites throughout the state."

The SFSP is the largest federal resource available for local programs that combine mealtime with recreational and educational activities. In 2012, more than 13,000 children were served meals and snacks at schools, churches, pools, parks, housing complexes and summer camps.

For more information on the Summer Food Program contact Gloria Cunningham with 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.

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