CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) Office of Child Nutrition kicked-off their Summer Food Program today at Elk Center Elementary. Thousands of children who would be at risk of meal insecurity will continue to be fed throughout the summer through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
An average of 178,000 West Virginia schoolchildren depend on free and reduced-price meals at school and have access to school meals throughout the school year as part of the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs. However, those meals end when school is out for the summer months. The SFSP ensures that children in lower-income areas continue to receive free, nutritious meals during summer break.
“This summer there are 136 agencies participating and over 480 feeding sites,” said Clayton Burch, Associate Superintendent of Schools, West Virginia Department of Education. “This means that, on average, the Summer Food Service Program will be providing more than 11,000 meals per day during the critical summer months.”
The federally funded initiative provides funds to participating agencies which include local boards of education, parks and recreation, colleges and universities, community action agencies, churches and other faith based groups to help feed hungry kids every summer. West Virginia has been highlighted nationally for participation in the SFSP.
"It is very important to feed children healthy meals because hunger doesn't take a summer vacation," said Terry Roden with the USDA. "Our partnership with the WVDE Office of Child Nutrition allows them to identify agencies, and our office to provide funds for summer feeding sites throughout the state. We are focused on increasing the number of feeding sites and outreach to the children that may not have access to meals during the summer.”
During today’s ceremony, Governor Justice’s office proclaimed June 8 as Summer Food Service Program Day, signifying the kickoff of the SFSP.
Individuals can find information on their closest summer feeding sites by calling the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3HUNGRY, visiting www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks or by texting FOOD to 877-877.
For additional information, contact Kristin Anderson at the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications at 304-558-2699 or Kristin.Anderson@k12.wv.us.