June 13, 2018

Children eating lunch

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) Office of Child Nutrition is addressing meal insecurity with the launch of its annual Summer Food Program today at Spring Hill Elementary School in Huntington, W.Va. The federally funded program provides nutritious meals for thousands of school-aged children in the state, many of whom would otherwise go hungry during the summer.

 As part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), 128 providers will serve students at 480 sites in the state. These providers include local boards of education, parks and recreation departments, colleges and universities, community action agencies, churches and other faith-based organizations.

 “During the year, our schools are more than educational centers because they play important roles beyond instructing our children,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Paine. “Often students rely on schools to receive a majority of their balanced and nutritious meals, and when schools are closed for the summer, it becomes a crisis for many families,” Paine said.

An average of 178,000 West Virginia students depend on free and reduced-priced meals at school. In 2017, the SFSP served approximately 13,000 meals per day, an 18 percent increase from the 11,000 meals served in 2016, and a 30 percent increase over the number served in 2015. The program is open to children 18 years-of-age and younger.

 The theme of the launch was “Fueling Our Future,” and included a proclamation from Governor Jim Justice recognizing June 8, 2018 as Summer Food Service Day. The full proclamation can be found by visiting, https://wvde.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Summer-Food-Service-Program-Day.pdf.  

 For information on the nearest summer feeding sites, call the National Hunger Hotline at 1-866-3HUNGRY, visit www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks or text FOOD to 877-877. Resources are also available by visiting https://wvde.us/child-nutrition/summer-food-service-program/.