Somerset County Children Missing 264,000 Meals
Partnering Organizations Trying to Fill Gap
Pittsburgh, PA (June 1, 2015) – In Somerset County, 4,400 or 46 percent of school-age children are eligible for free or reduced school lunches. What happens to these children during the summer months when there is no school and therefore no school-provided lunch? These children account for a potential total of 264,000 missed lunches because the resources available to them through their schools during the school year are no longer present.
To alleviate this challenge, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership offer the Summer Food Service Program. In 2014, working with community organizations, the Partnership helped facilitate 19,766 meals being served to children throughout Somerset County. The hope is to increase the number of meals served in 2015.
“Children are one of the most vulnerable populations that we serve,” said Lisa Scales, president & CEO at the Food Bank. “They are the future leaders of our nation, but without the proper nutrition they are three times more likely to face a lifetime of health issues, and at least two times as likely to face learning and behavioral roadblocks that prevent them from flourishing.”
By partnering with local schools, summer programs, churches and other community organizations, the Summer Food Service Program is able to provide lunches to children in need through the summer months, often in a creative and engaging way.
Camp Harmony teamed up with the Summer Food Service Program because of the need that was identified in the county.
“Working with children, we know how important a complete meal is to ensure their proper development. It is exciting to see the change in a child when they know we are going to help them eat throughout the summer,” said associate camp director for Camp Harmony Barron Deffenbaugh. “The excitement and enthusiasm of the children energizes the volunteers that work with us and results in an awesome summer of learning and growing. This year we are excited to be partnering with Helping Hands Food Bank in Boswell so that more children can be reached.”
Through the efforts of Camp Harmony, local school districts and community organizations throughout the county, the lunchtime meal gap for Somerset County children will continue to shrink during the summer months. Meyersdale United Methodists are also a sponsor for Somerset County Summer Food Service Program.
Families looking for summer meal options for their children under the age of 18 can get information by calling 211 or by texting “MEALPA” to 877-877.
Any organizations or individuals interested in learning more about how to become involved with the Summer Food Service Program can contact the Southwestern Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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