The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) is seeking partnerships with organizations across the state to help feed children and provide supervised activities during the summer months. When school is out of session during the summer months, community programs and organizations are vital to ensuring children in West Virginia are still receiving the nutrition they need, especially in low-income areas.
County boards of education, local government agencies and other nonprofit organizations can participate in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which ensures children (ages 18 and under) in lower-income areas continue to receive free, nutritious meals during the summer when they do not have access to the programs that are available to them during the school year, like the School Breakfast Program or National School Lunch Program. Feeding sites often include schools, churches, community centers, pools, parks, libraries, housing complexes and summer camps.
“Supporting summer feeding sites in your community is one of the most important things you can do to ensure no child goes hungry this summer,” said West Virginia superintendent of schools Dr. Steve Paine. “Children require consistent, good-quality nutrition for development of their minds and bodies. We want to make certain every child returns to the classroom in the fall ready to learn.”
An average of 208,000 children in West Virginia or about 76 percent of school children, depend on free and reduced-price meals at school, yet only about 21,000 receive the free meals provided by the SFSP.
“In 2018, 554 Summer Food Program sites provided nutritious meals to children in West Virginia and we believe many organizations will renew their commitment for 2019,” said Amanda Harrison, executive director of the Office of Child Nutrition. “We encourage new organizations in communities all across the Mountain State to join us so the number of sites can grow and more children have access to healthy meals.”
Organizations interested in becoming a 2019 summer sponsor should contact Cybele Boehm or Samantha Reeves with the Office of Child Nutrition by calling 304-558-3396. Summer sites will be announced in June 2019.