With the approaching summer break from school, area food pantries and the Groveport Madison Summer Food Service program are gearing up to meet demand.
Groveport City Councilwoman Donna Drury helped to establish the city's Summer Food Service Program five years ago, in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture and the Ohio State Department of Education.
"We expect to serve over 7,000 meals this summer to children from age zero to 18," she said. "There are no forms to fill out or income verification. The children don't have to be students, even.
"We know there's a large need for this, though, because Groveport Madison schools alone have about 71 percent of the students receiving free or reduced-price lunches during the school year."
Drury and Canal Winchester Human Services Administrator Penny Miller have said summer can be particularly hard on families; with kids out of school, it can be tough to feed everyone without the benefit of school breakfast and lunch programs.
"The need for food donations is never-ending and is especially critical during the summer months when kids are home from school and in many instances, are not receiving the benefit of school-implemented breakfast and lunch programs," Miller said. "Our Feeding Our Future program has already distributed more than 3,000 meals to school kids since it began in February."
While the Groveport Madison Summer Food Service program is funded by the USDA, this is only one piece of the puzzle, the women said. Keeping local food pantry shelves stocked is also crucial.
"We're asking people to please support their local food pantry on May 11 for the United States Post Office Food Drive, and the June 11 Pack the Pantry event," Miller said.
Drury said the Groveport Madison Summer Food Service program will provide free lunches from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday from June 9 through Aug. 9 at Groveport Junior High School, Groveport Middle School North, New Beginnings Christian Center or Independence Village Park.
The program is always in need of volunteers, including people to assist with meals, provide fun activities and just visit with the children, she said.
To participate in the USPO Food Drive on Saturday, May 11, residents should put donations in a plastic bag and then place the bag in or near their mailboxes for mail carriers to pick up.
Pack the Pantry on Tuesday, June 11, will once again be held at the Madison Township fire stations on Gender Road and Hamilton Road. Residents will be able to drive through to drop off donations in a quick and efficient manner.
All contributions from this event will benefit the Community Food Pantry.
For more information about the Groveport Madison Summer Food Service program, call Drury at 614-567-6188.
For more information about donations, call Miller at the Community Food Pantry at 614-834-3888.