POMEROY — A kickoff to the summer food program for children sponsored by the Meigs County Council on Aging with funding from the Ohio Department of Education was held Saturday at the Kickin’ Summer Bash Festival in downtown Pomeroy.
Not only was lunch served free to all kids there but from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. they rode the carnival rides without having to pay, thanks to the sponsorship of Meigs Senior Center and Farmers Bank.
In addition to providing a sack lunch and free carnival rides for the children, volunteers conducted games and awarded prizes to the winners. Flip-flops in many colors and sizes were distributed to the children along with a variety of novelty items by volunteers Catie Theiss and Katie Alexander.
While the Council on Aging considered Saturday’s event as the kickoff to the luncheon program, meals have actually been served to the children at sites around the county for the past week.
All children from age one through 18 are invited to eat lunch free at the various sites. The program will continue through Aug. 15, according to Beth Shaver, executive director of the Meigs County Council on Aging.
There are four sites open in Meigs County with two being open Monday through Friday. They are at Grace Episcopal Church on East Main Street in Pomeroy and the Meigs Senior Center at 1123 E. Memorial Drive in Pomeroy. Both will be serving from 12 noon until 12:30 p.m.
Lunches will be also be provided at the Meigs Museum on Butternut Avenue in Pomeroy on Tuesdays through Fridays from 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and at the First Baptist Church in Racine on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.
Lunches are also being provided to children enrolled in the Meigs County Library’s summer reading programs at Pomeroy, Racine and Eastern.
This is the second year for the Council on Aging to sponsor a summer food program but this year it is being offered on more days in more locations.
In addition to the Council on Aging’s program to feed children during the summer months when they do not have access to school lunches, another program of providing food for children is underway by the Meigs Local School District. Meigs Local was one of five districts in Ohio to be included in a summer feeding program initiated by Gov. John Kasich in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.
An emphasis of that program is to reach the most at-risk children in the remote, rural areas of the district. It has been suggested that 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. Chrissy Musser, Meigs Local Food Service Director, is handling the state-funded program which consists of 10 weeks of food during the summer months from delivery locations in Pomeroy, Middleport, Rutland, Harrisonville, Pageville, Salem Center, Dexter and Darwin. For families to qualify for the food boxes the children in the home must be on free or reduced lunch programs in the schools. However, food will be provided for all children in the home who are not enrolled in school.
Studies by state agencies have shown that in Ohio 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 know where their next meal will come from.