Now that school is out for the summer, children can look forward to more fun and free time outdoors. It is easy to think of the summer months as a carefree and simple time for all, but that is just not the case for some families in our state. Food insecurity is a sad reality and serious problem for many children.
This issue is often exacerbated during the summer. Children who are eligible for free breakfast or lunch throughout the school year suddenly are faced with limited options when it comes to having a dependable source of food and nutrition. Families who live paycheck-to-paycheck count on the availability of these meals when school is in session, and it should be no different during the summer months.
The Ohio House recently passed House Bill 80, which allows non-profit organizations to operate summer food programs in a school facility. This legislation is important because it helps school districts that are financially restrained from offering summer meals to partner with sponsors who are able to provide children with the nutrition they need.
In this way, school districts are given more options and are not automatically forced to opt out of meal programs during the summer because of financial concerns. In fact, many of Ohio’s children participate in summer school and other educational programs even when school has let out, but do not have a healthy lunch to look forward to like during the academic year. House Bill 80 addresses this issue through a practical and effective approach.
We cannot stand by while so many children in our state go hungry every summer. Every child deserves to have access to healthy food even when school is not in session, and House Bill 80 fills this void by allowing organizations to promote food security where there is clearly a need. As the bill has passed through the Ohio House with bipartisan support, I look forward to its passage in the Ohio Senate so that more children in Ohio can receive proper and consistent nutrition regardless of what month it is in the year.