Washington County Children Missing 570,000 Meals
Partnering Organizations Trying to Fill Gap
Pittsburgh, PA (June 5, 2015) – In Washington County, 9,500 or 32 percent of school-age children are eligible to receive 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 570,000 missed lunches because the resources available to them through their schools during the school year are no longer present.
While there have been efforts focused on summer feeding in the county in past years through a variety of community organizations, there has not been a coordinated effort to increase Summer Food participation throughout the whole county.
To alleviate this challenge, the Greater Washington County Food Bank, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership have come together to offer the Summer Food Service Program throughout the county in a way that will bring all organizations participating in the program to one table to plan and execute as a team.
“Children are one of the most vulnerable populations that we serve,” said Lisa Scales, president & CEO of Greater Pittsburgh Community 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 will provide lunches to children in need through the summer months in a creative and engaging way.
“In my opinion, the greatest inequity we face as a nation is that we have children and families dealing with hunger on a daily basis,” said Dr. Roberta DiLorenzo, superintendent of Washington School District. “Even if you believe that individuals design their fate and hunger is the consequence of lack of effort, you must realize that the existence of this disparity among citizens is a critical issue. Those of us in schools recognize the inequity in the faces of the children we serve and it is heartbreaking. To know that the summer hiatus, so anticipated with joy for some, brings the problem of not getting enough to eat for others.”
Through the collaborative efforts of the Greater Washington County Food Bank, school districts and other community organizations such as the LeMoyne Community Center, the lunchtime meal gap for Washington County children will continue to shrink during the summer months. Sponsors for the program in Washington County include Canon-McMillan, Charleroi and Ringgold School Districts and the LeMoyne Community Center.
“Greater Washington County Food Bank currently services ten after school and back pack programs, but that represents only a small portion of Washington County’s student population,” said Executive Director of the Greater Washington County Food Bank, Connie Burd. “Many others lack the security of knowing they will have a hot meal before the day is done. Anticipation of a lunch or dinner that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins and an occasional snack should never be a guessing game. Every child needs to grow up with the promise that hunger is met with nutrition and the Summer Food Service Program aids in filling that need for many children when school meals are no longer present.”
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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