Senator Brown presides over Senate chamber as SB 247 is passed

COLUMBUS – Today, Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) applauded the Ohio Senate's passage of Senate Bill 247, the Children’s Nutrition Bill. Senator Brown and Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) introduced this bill to increase access to nutritious meals for children during the summer months, when free and reduced price meals through school programs are not available.  

“I am very grateful to my colleagues for passing this much-needed bill, because hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation,” said Senator Brown. “Food insecurity is a problem year round for many families. This bill moves us one step closer to ensuring that all Ohio children receive adequate nutrition.”

SB 247 requires school districts to permit an alternative summer meal sponsor – such as a local nonprofit – to use school facilities to provide summer meals if the district declines to provide them itself in areas where at least one-half of the pupils are eligible for free lunches. The State Board of Education is responsible for providing a list of approved alternative summer meal sponsors to maintain quality and safety standards. 

The idea for SB 247 was brought to the Ohio Senate by Children’s Hunger Alliance, a non-profit organization focused on fighting childhood hunger in all 88 counties in Ohio. By working with childcare providers and breakfast, after school and summer meal programs, Children’s Hunger Alliance strives to ensure that children without access receive healthy food, nutrition education and physical activity.

“When school doors close, many children lose access to healthy school meals,” said Mary Lynn Foster, President & CEO of Children’s Hunger Alliance, after the bill was introduced in November 2015. “Summer nutrition programs help children receive healthy food, which prevents summer weight gain and summer learning loss.” 

The most recent data from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) indicates that over 850,000 school-aged children in Ohio are eligible for free and reduced price meals through the federal School Meal Program. Although more than 75% of eligible children access school lunches during the academic year, FRAC reports that fewer than 11% of these same children access meals through nutrition programs during summer months.

SB 247 now moves on to the House for consideration.

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