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Summer Food Program to start June 3

May 22, 2019
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

The Austintown Local School District will again be sponsoring the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) for children ages 1-18. Children and teens will be able to stop by Austintown Elementary School, 245 Idaho Rd., Mondays through Fridays for breakfast and lunch throughout the summer months.

"The Summer Food Service Program is available to any child age 1-18, and children do not have to be a resident of Austintown or attend Austintown Schools to participate," said Jayme Rarick, food service supervisor.

Breakfasts are served between 7:45 to 9 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. The program starts on June 3 and will continue through Aug. 16. The program has been running since 2013 and has been growing steadily. Rarick said she expects more growth this year.

"During the 2018 SFSP, we served just under 4,000 breakfasts and over 8,000 lunches-220 students a day for breakfast and lunch combined," she said. "We have seen our participation numbers increase, and we expect participation to increase even more this year, with the closing of GM Lordstown affecting our area."

The meals in the SFSP program does have to meet certain guidelines. Rarick said it must contain a milk, fruit and vegetable, grain and a meat or meat alternative. Since the program serves a wide age range, the portion sizes are larger to accommodate for the age differences.

In the AES cafeteria, there is a summer staff of three who handle the prep and serving of the breakfast and lunches. The Food Services Department pays their wages and is then reimbursed from the federal government. The entire SFSP is federally funded through the USDA and is state managed.

Rarick said the program helps fuel academics and athletics within the district. Employees who have been with the program since its first year have seen lives change. Having a balanced meal helps students return to the classroom in the fall, ready to learn. As for athletes, those students maintain a healthy balance enabling them to better compete. The main goal, however, is to fill the need of a hungry young person.

"Yes, the SFSP certainly fills a need," Rarick said. "Our program offers two meals a day that some kids might not otherwise receive during the summer months. Just last August, the Youngstown area was ranked second in food insecurity in the nation. By sponsoring the SFSP, we are able to provide reliable, warm meals from June to August to our community."



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