The Senate Agriculture Committee cleared legislation to reauthorize critical childhood nutrition programs, which includes a provision U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) introduced that would expand school lunch programs to ensure Ohio kids can get nutritious meals during summer vacation.
“All Ohio children should be able to count on healthy, nutritious meals year-round,” Brown said ahead of the vote. “Our bill will ensure that children in high-poverty rural areas and suburban communities who don’t have access to summer meal sites, will be eligible to receive $30 per month to spend on nutritious food. I am also pleased that the bill will reduce paperwork and make it easier for site sponsors to participate in the program. Summer Programs are critical not only because they ensure that children have access to food, but also because, in many cities across the country, summer feeding sites also have enrichment activities that make sure low-income children aren’t falling behind in their studies when school is out for summer.”
Immediately following the committee vote, Brown held a news conference call to outline legislation that would reauthorize funding for programs that provide school lunches, breakfasts, and meals for children and mothers without enough to eat. Brown was joined byJessica Shelly, foodservice director at the Cincinnati Public Schools, who outlined how the legislation would support programs in southwest Ohio.
“Initiatives like the Hunger Free Summer for Kids that Senator Brown is co-sponsoring are exactly the support needed to make it easier for children to get a healthy meal and make sure that no child goes hungry during the summer,” Shelly said. “The streamlining of the summer feeding program sponsor paperwork will allow Cincinnati Public Schools to continue to work in tandem with community partners to reach and feed more children in our community.”
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provides free meals and snacks to help children in low-income areas get the nutrition they need throughout the summer months when they are out of school. SFSP is run locally by approved sponsors, including school districts, local government agencies, camps, or private nonprofit organizations.
According to data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 630,000 Ohio children received free or reduced-priced lunch on an average day; however, many students miss out on this important source of nutritious food in the summer months.