Organizers asking for summer lunch participation
In just a little more than six weeks, the Summer Food Service Program in Lawrence County has served thousands of meals to local children.
With less than two weeks remaining, organizers are hoping more children will take advantage of the service to ensure the program returns next summer.
The program, sponsored by the Scioto Community Action Organization, began June 11 at nine locations across Lawrence County and served breakfasts and/or lunches to any child up to age 18. The goal was to ensure children would not go hungry during the summer months when the promise of a daily school meal was not being provided.
Despite the Ohio Department of Education’s estimation that between 44 and 62 percent of Lawrence County school children use lunch assistance during the regular school year, organizers said the summer lunch program has been somewhat slow. Several lunch sites were also closed due to non-participation of children.
Workforce Development Resource Center case manager Matthew Delong said the program was slow, even from the beginning.
“It started to pick up,” Delong said. “We got a lot of kids from summer school.”
He also said summer camps brought children out to sites like the Ironton Metro Housing Authority Park, and they would see 30 to 40 children a day take part in the lunches. But since the camps and summer schools have concluded for the year, children haven’t been reaching out for food.
“They want to see good numbers,” said Delong, referring to the Scioto CAO. “If they don’t, they might not do it next year.”
Delong said if that happens, local agencies may be able to apply for grants to keep the program running.
The WDRC has helped coordinate the daily meals and deliver and serve the meals to the children utilizing a summer youth worker program.
“We have served more than 5,000 meals to this point, that’s breakfasts and lunches, across the county,” said Nate Cline, summer youth case manager for the WDRC.
Cline said children participation has been streaky, but he said he wanted everyone to know the program is still plugging along.
With the help of the Ironton schools’ kitchen staff, 12 WDRC youth have operated out of the Ironton middle school kitchen to prepare daily meals and ready them for shipping and serving. They range in age from 14 to 21, Cline said.
“They help prepare the meals, under the supervision of the cooks from the Ironton school district,” Cline said. “They also distribute food to the sites and make sure the sites are clean. … Our kids put a lot of work into it and a lot of pride. They find it very fulfilling.”
Cline said the most utilized site has been the Ironton Middle School. He said about 100 meals a day were served there, partly due to the fact that summer school was in session.
Cline also said about 30 to 40 meals a day were served at the Ironton Metro site and 10 to 20 at the Sharon Baptist Church site.
Sites at Rock Hill Middle School, Storms Creek Apartments and Dawson-Bryant schools were shut down due to lack of participation. However, a site at Dawson-Bryant High School will reopen July 24.
A new addition to the summer program, Cline said, is the backpack program. For each child who comes to lunch at any site on a Friday, they will return home with a backpack of non-perishable food items, enough for a meal on Saturday and Sunday.
“Unfortunately, we are only able to be here Monday through Friday,” Cline said. “Hopefully, if there are students who are needy, we can provide meals for them.”
Any school-aged child up to age 18 can go to any site for a meal and no income information is required.
Burlington Commons Park
130 Township Road 1022, South Point
June 11 — Aug. 3
Lunch 11:15 — 11:45 a.m.
Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority
621 S. Ninth St. Ironton
June 11— Aug. 3
Lunch 12:15 — 12:45 p.m.
Ironton Middle School
302 Delaware St., Ironton
June 11 — Aug. 3
Breakfast 7:45 — 8:15 a.m. Lunch noon — 12:30 p.m.
Sharon Baptist Church
2010 S. Fifth St., Ironton
June 11 — Aug. 3, 2012
Lunch 11 a.m.
Dawson-Bryant High School
1 Hornet Lane, Coal Grove
July 24 — Aug. 3
Lunch 11:30 a.m. — noon