St. Louis, MO, May 17, 2018 --(PR.com
)-- For many children, summertime means fun activities like camp and swimming; for others, it is associated with hunger and added expenses since a family’s food budget increases an average of $300 per month when school meals are no longer provided.
Enter Operation Food Search (OFS), a non-profit hunger relief organization, which has teamed up with area partners to create additional avenues and expand existing methods for feeding all children 18 years of age and younger. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which is funded by the USDA, ensures that children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. The summer meal program begins June 4 and runs through Aug. 10 with mobile and stationary service extended to now operate Mon. through Sat. between the hours of 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
In 2012, OFS sponsored SFSP at a single location and served 5,000 meals to children. In the summer of 2016, the introduction of the mobile meals concept proved successful in breaking down transportation barriers and increasing access to healthy food. The organization’s 2018 goal is to serve 100,000 meals at a combination of stationary and mobile sites throughout the St. Louis region.
This year the mobile meal vans will serve 33 locations via three routes. There will be a total of 30 stationary meal service locations such as the International Institute located at 3401 Arsenal St., as well as at both St. Louis County and Public Libraries.
OFS’ meal service provides a daily dose of nutrition, along with a variety of games, arts, crafts, and STEM projects. The healthy meals fuel growing bodies while the engaging activities enrich curious minds. The program includes the following:
· OFS will team up with 20 AmeriCorps leaders who are part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that helps millions of Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through service. Along with meal service, AmeriCorps volunteers will provide educational interaction and entertaining activities.
· The St. Louis Public Library and the St. Louis Country Library (SLCL) system will now feature the OFS mobile route service at 15 branch locations. OFS has offered the stationary option at several St. Louis County Libraries since 2014 and will continue this year with eight sites. On Thursdays, SLCL will also offer Operation Backpack, a weekend food assistance program provided by OFS to ensure children are fed.
· A partnership with the St. Louis Reading Council will provide thousands of free books to children. Along with their meal, kids will be allowed to select a book of their very own each time they visit the Food & Fun Club.
· A special event that engages children and their families will pop up each Friday along the mobile routes. At these Food & Family Fun Club events, shelf-stable family meal kits will be distributed to parents along with fresh fruits and vegetables. A cooking demonstration and recipe tasting conducted by OFS’ nutrition education team will highlight produce offerings.
· The St. Louis Daily Council is providing educational materials for children to take home as an added enrichment piece.
· A partnership with Vroom, a program of the Lume Institute, will highlight learning opportunities for children ages 0 to 5.
“We offer a one-step solution for organizations to focus on what they do best while we provide the outreach, educational services, and vendors to provide food,” said Operation Food Search Executive Director Sunny Schaefer. “This program complements our mission to end childhood hunger and combat the toxic stress that threatens our area’s youth, and we look forward to serving our communities during the upcoming summer.”
Founded in 1981, Operation Food Search (OFS) is a hunger relief organization that provides food and nutrition education. With a strategic focus aimed at ending childhood hunger, OFS empowers families with a range of programs and services proven to reduce food insecurity and increase access to healthy and affordable food. The agency helps feed more than 200,000 individuals on a monthly basis – one-third of which are children – through a network of 330 community partners in 31 Missouri and Illinois counties.
Operation Food Search is located at 1644 Lotsie Blvd. For more information, call (314) 726-5355.