School May Be Over But The Needs Of Hungry Students Are Not

Numerous sack lunches prepared by volunteers at The Greater Cleveland Food Bank
Sack lunches The Greater Cleveland Food Bank provides to students over the summer. [ideastream/Darrielle Snipes]

Schools are letting out for the summer, which means no more homework — or free lunches for those students in need.

The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is just one of many organizations filing the gap and providing summer meals.

There are more than 100 places, including Cleveland and Cuyahgoa County Public Libraries, where children can go to have lunch from June 3 through August 9.

A map of all the Summer Feeding Sites [Greater Cleveland Food Bank]

The Summer Meals Program is funded through the USDA's Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and requires children eat their sack lunch on site.

Kristen Warzocha, the food bank’s president and CEO,  says there are more than 1,000 community programs to help feed an entire family year round.

“Many of those are food pantries where a family or a senior can go in and get a bag of groceries to take and prepare at home," she said. "So of course our pantries will be busy all summer and see more families than usual.”

The Food Bank last year served more than 200,000 meals to students during the summer months.

To find a site near you:

In Painesville, the school district has a mobile program with a food truck that makes five stops at either a school or a park.

Students will get a meal and be offered educational activities as well, said Michelle Papic, who supervises the program.

"There is the book box two days of the week,” said Papic. “And then then we bring in other community partners, our Lake County Health District two days of the week, who provide nutrition education and some physical activities to the students. And then one day of the week the YMCA provides some fun actives.”

Having a mobile program reduces the number of staff needed but increases the number of children reached, Papic said.

Last year, the district provided 11,000 meals through the summer lunch program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Cleveland Metropolitan School District is also offering 12 sites for lunch and two for dinner this summer.

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