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Foodbanks tell USDA help needed in summer months

Tana Weingartner

USDA Administrator Audrey Rowe stopped in Cincinnati Monday. She participated in a roundtable discussion about ways to expand summer food programs for children.

Freestore Foodbank President Kurt Reiber says the goal is reducing childhood hunger during the summer months. That's when children who would normally benefit from free or reduced school lunch programs often go hungry.

"Some of the solutions that we're working on, and we've gotten some test grants for, is a summer school pantry program," says Reiber. "As well as working with some of the libraries in the communities to have access to those libraries where we would bring in a mobile pantry unit."

Among the 78 biggest cities in the country, Reiber says Cincinnati ranks second only to Detroit when it comes to childhood hunger.

"We don't have as many resources as some of the largest cities have in terms of being able to get access to manufacturers and large retailers. We have Kroger here; we have Procter & Gamble here; but we really need the rest of the entire community to rally around hunger as a major issue."

Reiber and others told USDA Administrator Audrey Rowe about some of the obstacles they face in getting food to children in need. For example, he says foodbanks need to spend less time doing paperwork. He's hoping she'll take that message back to Washington and try to do something about it.

Nationwide, the USDA Administrator's office has set a goal this summer of serving 10 million more meals than it did last summer.