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Summer meals can fill more than stomachs

It may sound like a very simple statement, but it hits on a truth that is very important to both our region’s future and our nation’s future.

“The goal is to keep our young people happy and healthy,” said Luanne Valentine, operations director of the employment and training department at the Scioto CAO. “And if they are hungry, they aren’t happy and they aren’t healthy.”

This comment perfectly illustrates the over-arching goals and the thought process of an agency that is trying to address the critical need in our area — feeding our children during summer months.

The Scioto County Community Action Organization has expanded its summer meals program to include nine locations here in Lawrence County where children ages 1 to 18 can receive free breakfast and/or lunch.

This is a tremendous addition to the county and should go a long way toward addressing a critical need. Organizers expect to serve more than 400 meals each day.

We applaud the federal government for providing the funding for this vital program, the Scioto CAO for leading the way on the expansion and all the other partners to help make this happen including the Ironton school District, the Ironton Lawrence County CAO and countless volunteers.

With nearly half the students in Lawrence County being eligible for free lunch during the school year, the data suggests there are significant needs that may go unmet during the summer. This starts to address that need.

Children deserve the opportunity to enjoy their youth and reach their complete educational and social potential. That cannot happen with an empty stomach.