Chris Schulz Published

As School Year Ends, State Prepares For Summer Feeding

Focus on the foreground shows a hand placing a slice of pizza onto a school cafeteria tray. In the background, out of focus, students can be seen making their way down a counter.
School may be out, but hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation.

Memorial Day is traditionally considered the start of the summer season. School may be out, but hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation.

All but five of West Virginia’s 55 counties provide free breakfast and lunch during the school year to all students, regardless of household income. 

The Summer Food Service Program ensures children don’t go hungry while school is out.

Most feeding sites are sponsored by local boards of education, but other community organizations including churches and nonprofits can also sign up to sponsor locations.

In an email to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Cybele Boehm, coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition, said that applications are still being approved. 

“We currently have 422 sites approved to operate,” she said. “We expect around 20 additional sponsoring organizations, so we may reach 450-500 feeding sites.”

Free meals, either breakfast, lunch or both, depending on the site, are open to all children under 18.

“Last year, over 3.2 million meals were served to children in our state, and we are hoping this number increases,” Boehm said. 

She said communities can find feeding sites near them by texting “food” to 304-304 and typing their address or zip code. Locations can also be found online via the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Find Meals For Kids” portal.