Columbus – Today, Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) joined Senator Peggy Lehner (R – Kettering) in introducing Senate Bill 247 (SB 247), the Children’s Nutrition Bill. SB 247 focuses on increasing access to nutritious meals for children during the summer months when free and reduced price meals through school programs are not available. 

“During the holiday season there is an increased focus on providing meals to families in need,” said Senator Brown. “Unfortunately, food insecurity is a problem year round for many families and can be particularly difficult for children during summer months when they are not in school.”

SB 247 requires school districts to permit an alternative summer meal sponsor, such as a local YMCA or Boys and Girls Club,  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 child care providers and breakfast, afterschool 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. “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 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.

“Hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation,” said Senator Brown. “I am happy to join Senator Lehner and Children’s Hunger Alliance as we work to increase access to meals for children year round.”

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