The West Virginia Department of Education is already looking for organizations from throughout the state to help feed children and provide supervised activities for them during the upcoming summer season.
County boards of education, along with non-profit organizations can participate in the Summer Food Program, according to a news release from the WVDE. The program encourages communities to provide safe places for children and teenagers ages 18 and younger.
Organizations receive money to provide meals to complement recreational and educational programs. Feeding sites can include schools, churches, community centers, pools, parks, housing complexes and summer camps.
"The Summer Food Program draws children into supervised activities that are safe, fun and filled with learning opportunities," West Virginia Superintendent Jim Phares said in a news release. "Children benefit nutritionally by receiving complete, wholesome meals while parents benefit by stretching their food dollars."
Children have access to school meals throughout the school year, but the meals end when school is out for the summer months. The Summer Food Program was created to ensure children in low-income areas continue to receive nutritious meals.
An average of about 187,000 children in West Virginia, which is about 56 percent of school children, depend on free and reduced-price meals at school, according to the WVDE, yet only 13,251 receive the free meals provided by the Summer Food Program."
Phares said there were 452 Summer Food Program sites in West Virginia in 2012.
"We are hopeful that new organizations will opt to join us so the number of sites can grow," Phares said in a news release.
Upcoming summer sites will be announced in May 2013. Organizations involved in the 2012 Summer Food Program are posted at http://static.k12.wv.us/ocn/2012-summer-food-organization.pdf.