Ohio wants to get more kids in summer food program

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Ohio wants to get more kids in summer food program

News-Herald — Ohio education and food program officials want to increase the number of children in low-income areas who participate in a program that offers them free breakfasts or lunches during the summer, when they’re not getting meals at school.

Increasing access and participation in the federally funded Summer Food Service Program is the focus of a summit Monday in Grove City. It comes on the heels of news that a record high of nearly 841,000 Ohio students, or about 45 percent, are eligible for free or reduced-cost school lunches based on their family incomes.

Less than one-fifth of eligible children participated in the summer program last year, according to the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks and the Ohio Department of Education, which administers the program.

“When children go hungry during the summer months, their health and education suffers,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, who is expected to join the Monday event by video, said in a statement. Representatives from the Ohio Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and summer food service providers also will be at the meeting to discuss ways to increase participation, such as incorporating sports, arts, field trips or educational opportunities into their programs.

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