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Summer meal program seeking sponsors

Staff Report //January 22, 2020//

Summer meal program seeking sponsors

Staff Report //January 22, 2020//

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Organizations interested in learning about sponsoring the S.C. Department of Education’s summer meal program can attend an informational meeting on Feb. 6.

The department’s Office of Health and Nutrition will hold the meeting from 10 a.m. until noon at Phillips Market Center at the S.C. State Farmers Market, located at 117 Ballard Court in West Columbia. Online registration is requested by Feb. 3.

The meal program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides healthy meals to children during summer months when school is not in session. Some meal sites also offer learning enrichment programs and activities.

“It is important that all students return from the summer break happy, healthy and ready to learn,” S.C. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said in a news release. “Unfortunately, some experience hunger and lack access to healthy meals during the summer months. Our summer meals program helps to ensure that any child 18 and under has access to a nutritious meal while school is not in session.”

Sponsors prepare or contract with eligible vendors to prepare reimbursable, USDA-approved meals that can be served at schools, churches, recreation centers, hospital cafeterias, farmers markets and other community locations.

Ron Jones, director of the education department’s Office of Health and Nutrition, said that last summer, 125 sponsors helped serve more than 3.4 million meals at around 2,000 meal sites.

“Our goal this year is to continue to grow this program to fill the nutritional gap experienced during the summer for as many students in need as possible,” Jones said.

Sponsors receive training, support and technical assistance before and during the summer meal program. More information is available by emailing [email protected].