By providing additional flexibility to summer food service providers and working families, this legislation will ensure that fewer children go hungry during the summer.
“Ohio children should have access to nutritious meals all year-round, not just during the school year,” said Brown. “This bill would ensure children in communities across Ohio have access to healthy meals and help to ensure no child goes hungry during the summer months.”
The senators’ Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act of 2019 proposes two alternative options states can utilize through the program.
The first would allow for meals to be consumed off-site through mobile feeding programs and backpack meal programs.
The other option would authorize the summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program which would provide eligible families $30 per summer month per child, with a maximum of $100 per child per year, to purchase eligible food items from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) approved retailers. In USDA pilot programs, summer EBT was shown to reduce child hunger by over 30 percent.
Elizabeth Beadle, spokeswoman for Middletown Schools, said the district “launched the Middie Meal Machine food truck to better reach our students.”
“While we are grateful for the federal food programs and summer lunch programs, we welcome measures to ensure more students can receive meals,” Beadle said of the senate bill.
Three years ago, Lakota Schools was the first in Butler County to use food trucks – in their case converted school buses – to deliver health lunches to needy students who usually are fed during the school year through free and reduced school meal programs.
“Lakota’s summer lunch program is federally funded. As such, any additional support we receive for the program would be welcomed so that we can then help more of our families in need,” said Lakota Spokeswoman Betsy Fuller.
Jeff Madden, director of Fairfield Schools’ student services, likes the proposed law.
“Flexibility in federal programs, especially the ones proposed in this bill may help children and families meet their nutritional needs at a greater level,” said Madden.
“These proposals seem to enhance the current program by providing some reasonable flexibility. We look forward to seeing where this bill goes and evaluating the impact it might have on kids,” he said.