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Summer Food Service Program Stresses Good Nutrition During the Summer Months

May 28, 2003

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia Department of Education is working to make sure that no children in West Virginia go hungry when school is closed this summer. Many children in the state receive free or reduced-price meals during the school year, but many of these children do not get enough to eat when school is out. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) ensures that low-income children continue to grow and learn during the summer.  

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the SFSP is the largest federal resource available for local programs that combine mealtime with recreational and educational activities. The West Virginia Department of Education recognizes the need for the program throughout the Mountain State.  

“Many of our children who rely on school breakfast and lunch during the school year do not have the energy they need during the summer,” State Schools Superintendent Dr. David Stewart said. “That’s where we come in, by providing nutritious meals and activities to keep kids nourished and active.”  

Statewide, only 10 percent of the 143,563 children who qualify have access to local Summer Food sites. There were 446 sites across West Virginia in 2001, but only 14,727 children participated.  

“Our responsibility for children doesn’t end when school is out for the summer. Kids who get enough to eat and have safe activities to participate in during the summer are less likely to get into trouble,” Stewart said. “Our summer meals program is a building block in the community for healthy, happy kids who are ready to learn.”  

The SFSP for Children is a federally funded program operated nationally by the USDA and administered by the West Virginia Department of Education. Eligible sponsors such as non-profit organizations, schools and local governments serve nutritious meals and snacks free to low-income children during the summer months. Summer programs are located at approved sites that are either in low-income areas or serve a group of children, most of whom come from low income households.  

Any agency or school that would like more information should contact Gloria Cunningham, Coordinator for the Department of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition, at (304) 558-4856.

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