Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
Recent funding from Gov. John Kasich will provide meals to some of Ohio’s most at-risk children, including up to 680 children served by the Freestore Foodbank.
In partnership with the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the Ohio Department of Education, and the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, the Freestore Foodbank and its partners will pilot innovative delivery methods for providing meals to children in remote, rural areas without access to traditional Summer Food Service Program sites.
“We are extremely grateful for Gov. Kasich’s hard work and support, as well as First Lady Karen Kasich’s recognition of the importance of good nutrition for Ohio’s children,” said Freestore Foodbank President and CEO Kurt Reiber. “We are excited about what this pilot program will mean for children and families with transportation issues and other barriers in rural Ohio.”
The Freestore Foodbank is one of five organizations selected to pilot innovative methods for meal delivery to children in rural areas as part of this initiative. The Freestore Foodbank will work with its partner The Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund located in Portsmouth, as well the Bloom-Vernon School District, the Minford School District and Pinkerman South Webster Community Church.
Distributions to eligible, approved children will occur from 6 to 8 p.m. every Monday, beginning June 17 through Aug. 12 at Pinkerman South Webster Community Church, for Bloom-Vernon School District; and from 10:30 a.m. to noon every Wednesday, beginning June 19 through Aug. 14 at Minford Elementary School, for Minford School District children.
Volunteers will deliver meals to children whose parents/guardians are unable to pick up from the distribution sites.
Named in the memory of their son, Mark and Virgie Hunter started the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund Powerpack Program in 2010 with 120 students at the Portsmouth City School District. Today the program has grown to serve nearly 500 students in nine local school districts. The program provides each student with five pounds of food to take home for the weekend.
In Ohio, 46 percent of children live in families poor enough to qualify for free or reduced price school meals. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity, more than one in four Ohio children do not always know where their next meal will come from. While the federal Summer Food Service Program provides summer meals for children at congregate sites, those sites are often difficult to access for families in rural areas. This pilot program is intended to help the most at-risk children by providing alternative access to weekly meals.
“Ohio’s children deserve a healthy start in life. Preventing hunger and malnutrition supports them in having a healthy childhood and becoming healthy adults,” said Ohio First Lady Karen Kasich. “Maintaining children’s nutrition in the summer months is crucial to their ability to be focused learners when they return to school in the fall.”
Last month the Steven A. Hunter Hope Fund placed first in a national online fundraiser campaign hosted by Wal-Mart, to receive a $20,000 grant toward their mission of feeding local school children.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTWriter.