Starting June 4, Cincinnati Public Schools will begin offering free breakfast and lunch to disadvantaged children at schools, recreation centers, and other locations throughout the district.
The meals will be made available Monday to Friday through August 3 for children ages 18 and younger, as well as to anyone between the ages of 19 and 21 who is determined by a state or local public education agency to be mentally or physically disabled. Exact times and locations can be found on CPS' website, or by calling 513-363-0800. No meals will be served Wednesday, July 4.
Lauren Marlow, MS, RD, is supervisor of nutrition, commodities and summer programs for CPS. She says the federally funded Summer Food Service Program has served anywhere from 3,500 to 5,000 children across the city for the last few years.
"A lot of kids rely on school to get a meal, and during summer break that's a big gap where they might not have access to a meal," she says. "We're trying to fill that gap for anyone who is dependant on school meals for nutrition."
Each breakfast and lunch provides a fruit, vegetable, and entree option of whole grains and lean meats, she says. CPS also provides skim milk and juice to drink.
To receive a free meal, kids should arrive at a serving site 15 minutes before the scheduled time. No registration is required, but all meals must be eaten on-site. "It's a USDA regulation to make sure that a child consumes the meal," Marlow says.
Locations are determined as "low income" based on school data. "(We) meet kids where they may already be for programs, so we're able to provide a well-balanced meal for them where they are," she adds.
Federal funding comes through the U.S. Department of Education. CPS sponsors the program in conjunction with the Cincinnati Recreation Commission and other community groups.