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Weekend backpack meals to be served

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Recent funding from Gov. John R. Kasich totaling $1 million will provide free weekend backpack meals to 10,000 Ohio children for 10 weeks this summer, including 217 children served in Logan County by Tri-County Community Action.

The program is a partnership of the governor’s office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the Ohio Department of Education and Ohio’s foodbanks which will collaborate with Summer Food Service Program sponsors, including Tri-County Community, in targeted areas to distribute the meals.

“We are extremely grateful for Gov. Kasich’s hard work and support, as well as First Lady Karen W. Kasich’s recognition of the continued increase in demand placed on our site and other organizations like it across Ohio,” Denise Birt, Tri-County Community Action executive director, said in a release.

Local distribution of the backpack meals begins this week at the following Summer Food Service Program sites:

Point Village Apartments, 400 Lincoln Blvd., Russells Point — Lunch, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with backpacks distributed during Friday’s meal.

Chippewa Outreach Center, 13976 Ironwood Ave., Lakeview —  Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday; snack, 3:15 to 3:45 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday; backpacks during Friday’s meal.

Western Community Outreach Center, 520 Garfield Ave. — Lunch, noon to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; snack, 2:30 to 3 p.m. Monday, Thursday, 4 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Friday; backpacks during Friday’s meal.

Patterson Avenue Nutrition Site, 125 E. Patterson Ave. — Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays, when backpacks are distributed.

• Bellefontaine High School — Runs June 17-28 and July 22-Aug. 2; Breakfast, 7:30 to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday; lunch, 11 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday; backpacks distributed during Thursday’s meal.

Ohio First Lady Karen W. Kasich said the effort aims to prevent childhood hunger and malnutrition with the goal of promoting healthy children who will become healthy adults.  

“Maintaining children’s nutrition in the summer months is crucial to their ability to be focused learners when they return to school in the fall,” she said. “With this executive order, 600,000 additional meals will be served this summer to Ohio children in need.”

Currently in the state, 46 percent of children live in families poor enough to qualify for free or reduced price school meals. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap: Child Food Insecurity, more than one in four Ohio children do not always know where their next meal will come from.

“Child hunger is a serious problem in Ohio, and this additional $1 million could not come at a better time,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, Ohio Association of Foodbanks executive director.

“We take pride in this strong public-private partnership with Gov. Kasich, the First Lady, the governor’s office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the State of Ohio and Summer Food Service Program sponsors like Tri-County CAC.

“Their hard work and continued recognition of the value that access to nutritious food plays in our state’s ability to prevent costly healthcare and educational expenses is generous, insightful and timely.”

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