Pictured at the Apple Hill Apartments in Jackson are some of the COAD/RSVP employees and volunteers who work to make the Summer Meals for Kids program work. From the left, are: COAD/RSVP Ohio Valley Chapter Director Susan Rogers, Sarah Rafferty, Crystal Crisp, Buffy Terry, Chandler Fout, William Conley, Colin Bellar, Bryson Gilliland, Trevan Gilliland, and Hannah Ross. (Telegram Photos By Mindy Barry)
This photo was taken at a recent summer lunch session conducted at the Apple Hill Apartments in Jackson, which is being conducted as part of the Summer Meals for Kids program. Seated (from the left) are Robert, Destiny and Collin McGinnis. Standing (from the left) are program volunteers Trevan Gilliland and Hannah Ross; and the parents of the McGinnis children, Cynthia and Matthew McGinnis.
By Mindy BarrySummer break for area children is in full swing, leaving many families scrambling to fill the gap normally supplemented by the National School Lunch Program.
Telegram Staff Writer
More than 807,000 kids are eligible for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program in Ohio -- a staggering 44 percent. Some of these children rely on free or reduced-price school meals to get the nutrition they need to grow, learn, and thrive. Thanks to programs like COAD/RSVP's Summer Meals for Kids and TLC Ministries' Summer Lunch Club, local youths have access to numerous sites that provide not only a healthy lunch, but also a place to converse with friends while school is not in session. Best of all, there is no income guidelines and no forms to fill out; both programs are open to any child with an appetite, between the ages of 1 and 18.
With one in four kids in Ohio living in food-insecure households, COAD/RSVP and TLC Ministries have partnered with the Southeast Ohio Foodbank to help alleviate food plight in this area. These generous local programs run for 10 weeks, June through August, and offer a variety of other services to the needy of the area. Although lunch at the sites is provided for free to all children, other services, such as the Summer Weekend Meals Program and the Summer Rural Delivery Meals Program, are income-based and require pre-registration.
Susan Rogers, director of COAD/RSVP's Summer Meals for Kids, reports seven sites that are open for lunch from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. In Jackson County, any child is welcome to attend for free the following sites for lunch and a fun activity: Northview Elementary, Stonecrest Apartments, Hickory II Apartments, Apple Hill Apartments, Hillcrest Pool, The Child Development Center, and Grace Baptist Church.
For example, on Friday, June 23, there was a delivery of more than 1,200 boxes of non-perishables and produce at the organization's home delivery site of Westview Elementary. With a great staff including inventory manager, Treven Gilliland, and activities director, Hannah Ross, more than 1,000 area children need not worry about a nutritious lunch. Special days are assigned to the week, which includes produce day Wednesday and pizza day Thursday. Rural and weekend backpacks are sent home to children who qualify, and there is an afternoon supper program. Volunteers and donations are always welcome.
Terry Witt, director of TLC Ministries' Summer Lunch Club, provides the kids with a free lunch followed by Kids Club -- where they offer activities for the participants.
In Wellston, the following sites provide lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., followed by Kids Club: Bundy Heights, Fairview Terrace, JVCA (lunch here is 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), Wells Manor, The D St. Apartments, as well as Coalton Park (11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). They provide lunch to all the day campers at the Jackson YMCA, and invite all children to walk in and have lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Swimmers can take a break at the Margaret Ann Pool in Oak Hill and grab a free lunch at the shelter house from 1 to 2 p.m. And in Gallia County, free lunch is offered at the Rio Estate Apartments from 12 to 12:30 p.m. Also, TLC Ministries has six sites alone in Gallia County; these are open to Gallia school children who participate in summer school and walk-ins are welcome.
More sites available around the area include: Oak Hill summer school program, Wellston city school summer school, the Bundy Elementary reading program is Thursday starting at 11 a.m. for lunch, then kids will head to the reading room, and Warriors 4 Christ, Monday through Thursday. In Vinton County, the Hamden Help Me Grow runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Terry Witt oversees a total of 30 sites that provide summer lunch for area youths as well as snacks at Jackson and Wellston libraries. Donations and volunteers are always welcome. Last year, there were more than 20,000 served, but Witt is expecting more this year.
One in 10 kids in Ohio who rely on free and reduced-price school meals during the school year are accessing SFSP sites for meals during summer break. Rogers and Witt want parents in the area to get the word out, and to remember, these sites are open to all area children regardless of income. Donations and volunteers are needed for both programs.
Contact Susan Rogers at COAD/RSVP at 740-286-4918 or Terry Witt at TLC Ministries at 740-988-4368 for any questions or more details.