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Help needed for state DOE Summer Feeding Program

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Help needed for state DOE Summer Feeding Program
By Carrie Hodousek, WV MetroNews

The state Department of Education is searching for organizations to help feed children across West Virginia this summer.

“We have a high number of kids that need to be fed through the summer that depend on our school breakfast and lunch,” said Cybele Boehm, coordinator of the Summer Food Service Program.

The program needs community groups to help provide children with the nutrition they need, especially in low-income areas.

“Because of our geographical challenge, the more feeding sites we have throughout West Virginia, the more kids we can reach,” Boehm said.

Feeding sites often include schools, churches, community centers, pools, parks, libraries, housing complexes and summer camps.

Low-income children, ages 18 and under, will continue to receive free, nutritious meals during the summer because they do not have access to the programs that are available to them during the school year.

According to the DOE, about 63 percent of school children in West Virginia depend on free and reduced-price meals at school. That’s 178,000 West Virginia children.

There were 485 Summer Food Program sites in 2016, but Boehm said they want that number to grow.

“Almost in every county we have at least one site. We have certain counties — one in particular — Gilmer County is lacking,” she said. “We hope that the number of sites will grow.”

Organizations interested in becoming a 2017 summer sponsor should contact Cybele Boehm at cboehm@k12.wv.us or by calling 304-558-2709.

The summer sites will be announced in May.