Summer food program kicks off in W.Va. to help feed needy children

By Carrie Hodousek in News
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Nearly 480 sites across West Virginia will offer free healthy meals to children throughout the summer months.

The effort is part of the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Child Nutrition’s summer food service program that serves children 18 and younger. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.doe

On Tuesday, program coordinator Cybele Boehm and DOE officials hosted a kick off event at Spring Hill Elementary School in Huntington for about 100 kids.

The department provided a variety of food such as salad, fruit, vegetables, hot rolls, spaghetti and much more during its first event of the summer.

Boehm said this service is needed in West Virginia, so children don’t go hungry. She said as the economy digresses, the need for hungry children increases.

“We have an average of 173,000 children in West Virginia that depend on free and reduced price meals at school, so we do have a high need,” she said.

Schools, faith based organizations, non-profit organizations and local government agencies are among the host sites this year.

The program is meant to serve an average of 10,000 meals per day during the program, Boehm said.

“Anyone can come as open site, which Spring Hill is. Any children 18 and under can come and eat at the site free of charge,” she said.

The Department of Education will provide reimbursement money to county school boards or other organizations who will serve meals to needy kids.