Summer food programs feed struggling Washington County children
MARIETTA — Hundreds of children in Washington County are getting through the summer without worrying about what they’re going to eat during the day. The same U.S. Department of Agriculture program that pays for free and reduced-cost lunch and breakfast in schools funds programs to keep them fed while school is not in session.
The free meal program is being offered in at least 16 sites in the county — seven in Marietta, five in Belpre, and the remaining four in Beverly, New Matamoras, Lower Salem and Lowell.
The Washington County Board of Developmental Disabilities acts as the assembly and distribution point for six of the sites, supervisor Monika Farnsworth said. She said they send out between 200 and 250 meals a day.
“We do the ordering, plan the menus, and we do food safety training at the sites,” Farnsworth said, standing in the big commercial kitchen at Ewing School on Colegate Drive, where meals, both breakfast and lunch, are prepared and bagged by a staff of four people, loaded into thermal containers the size of duffle bags, and handed out the door to drivers who take them to the places where the kids are.
One of those places is The Betsey Mills Club, where 50 to 60 kids spend the day in activities.
“It’s really good food,” Dawn Jones, the program supervisor at Betsey Mills, said. “We have pizza Fridays, soy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, hamburgers, salads, lots of nutritious food the kids really like.”
At the Boys and Girls Club on Lancaster Street, supervisor Angie Scott said the number of children in the summer programs has increased substantially. On Friday, she and 11 staff members were looking after, and playing with, about 75 children, about 30 more than were in the program last year. The club, run out of the Harmar Community Center, is open from 7 a.m. To 6 p.m., she said.
“A lot of these kids come from underprivileged homes, and what they get here might be the only meals they eat during the day,” she said.
Washington-Morgan Community Action has been running a summer food program for about 10 years, Carrie McNamee, who supervises the program, said it has four sites in Washington County and three in Morgan County.
“When kids are out of school for the summer, it’s harder for their parents to support the family,” she said. “The programs also give them a place to go if they need it.”
Community Action provides lunch, not breakfast, at the sites it supports, but it also provides some food for children to take home on weekends, shelf stable goods from the Southeast Ohio Food Bank and fresh produce from the Witten Farm Market and Greenhouse near Lowell.
The meals are prepared and packaged in the kitchen on the lower level of the O’Neill Center, she said. Community Action gets reimbursed for the meals but not the cost of people to prepare them or deliver them, she said.
“We have three Americorps Vista people, an intern from the Parkersburg Community Foundation, and the Sisters Health Foundation contributes to help us with activities,” she said.
On Friday, the agency provided lunch for 128 children, she said.
Locations of Summer Food Programs in Washington County
* Boys and Girls Club, 307 Lancaster St., 740-373-4123; breakfast and lunch through August 10
* Ely Chapman Educational Center, 403 Scammel St., 740-376-9533; breakfast and lunch through August 17
* Betsey Mills Club, 300 Fourth St., 740-373-4981; breakfast and lunch through August 17
* Marietta Aquatic Center, 232 Pennsylvania Ave., 740-373-1616; lunch through August 10
* Ewing School, 1701 Colegate Drive, 740-401-3088; breakfast and lunch through July 27
* Sand Hill Daycare Center, 725 Sandhill Road, 740-370-0230; breakfast and lunch through August 17
* Washington County Career Center, , 21740 State Route 676, 740-350-8658; lunch Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through July 26
* John Dodge Park, State Route 339; lunch through August 10
* Lowell United Methodist Church, 323 Fourth St., 740-373-3745 #316; lunch through August 10
* Lower Salem Pavilion, State Route 821, 740-373-3745 #316; lunch through August 10
* First Presbyterian Church, 300 Front St., 740-373-3745 #316; lunch through August 10
* Miss Peggy’s House, 127 Lee St., 740-423-1009; breakfast and lunch through August 17.
* Belpre Pool, 1500 Blennerhassett Ave., 740-423-1009; lunch through August 3
* Belpre City Schools, 2000 Rockland Ave., 740-423-3010; breakfast and lunch through July 5
* Rockland Church, 2300 Washington Blvd., 740-440-0115; morning snack and lunch through July 25
* Hopewell Health Center, 2434 Richmiller Lane, 740-423-8095; lunch and afternoon snack Tuesdays and Thursdays through July 26