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Operation Food Search Launches Summer Meals Kickoff

Nonprofit adjusts nutritious food program to address the current climate.

St. Louis, MO, June 10, 2020 --( Today officially starts Operation Food Search’s ninth Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which is funded by the USDA and ensures children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. But this year the program is much different…just like everything else in today’s climate.

Operation Food Search (OFS) began its summer program earlier this year on March 27 based upon children no longer attending school due to COVID-19. This program will end Aug. 21.

Since its inception in 2012, OFS and community partners have provided a total of nearly 450,000 meals to children 18 years of age and younger. The nonprofit plans to serve over 300,000 meals during this year’s March through Aug. time period, which is more than three times what was served last summer.

Prior to COVID-19, OFS could only serve meals where children congregated including summer camps, parks and recreation facilities, and summer enrichment programs. Children received breakfast and lunch during certain hours, and each meal had to be eaten onsite during the 10-week program. The congregate meal requirement made it difficult for children, particularly in rural areas, to access free meals. In the past, most school districts did not offer meals to children after summer school concluded, leaving thousands of children at risk for hunger during the six-week period until school resumed in Aug.

This summer everything has changed. Now OFS will implement four distribution methods—rural partnerships, grab ‘n go meal sites, drive-through meal pickup, and mobile meal routes—to best accommodate COVID-19 guidelines. Other big changes: OFS currently can serve multiple meals to children at designated meal locations, and these meals can be eaten at home instead of on the premises. This summer’s flexible meal waivers create an opportunity to serve more children during this difficult time.

The summers meals program includes the following:

· OFS continues to work with two St. Charles City-County Library branches and 10 St. Louis County Library branches. OFS has offered the stationary meal service option at several St. Louis County Libraries (SLCL) since 2014, but this year it has evolved into a drive-through meal pickup.

For information on how to find the nearest summer meal location, text "Food" 877-877 or "Comida" 877-877.

Founded in 1981, Operation Food Search (OFS) is a hunger relief organization that provides free food, nutrition education and innovative programs proven to reduce food insecurity. With a strategic focus aimed at ending childhood hunger, OFS empowers families and increases access to healthy and affordable food. The agency provides food and services to nearly 200,000 individuals on a monthly basis – one-third of whom are children – through a network of 330 community partners in 30 Missouri and Illinois counties. For more information, call (314) 726-5355.
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Operation Food Search
Rochelle Brandvein

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