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Proposal would establish summer meal program

Special to the Legal News

Published: April 22, 2013

A bill backed with bipartisan support from lawmakers was crafted with the belief that hunger doesn’t take a break in the summer.

Senate Bill 11, sponsored by Sen. Edna Brown, D-Toledo, would require schools to be available as summer feeding sites in areas where 50 percent or more of the local children qualify for summer meal programs.

“The inspiration and need for this bill boils down to a very simple reality: Childhood hunger in Ohio does not end when school is no longer in session,” she said.

“Yet, access to nutrition programs administered through the schools does end when the school buildings are no longer available.”

Brown said schools are often the center of neighborhoods and are already convenient locations for children to access.

“By taking advantage of these conveniently-accessible locations, we can open up new opportunities for food programs to meet the needs of the children who depend on them during the-school year and over the summer,” she said.

“Schools could provide the meals themselves or explore partnerships with local governments, faith-based providers or nonprofits to aid in the delivery of nutritious meals.”

The proposal is a reintroduction of a bill Brown originally introduced in the 129th General Assembly. SB 11 is included in the collection of legislative priorities for the Senate Democratic Caucus.

In addition to its main focus, if enacted, the bill would revise a provision in current law that bans children from eating while on a school bus.

“This revision would permit school districts to use a stationary school bus as a place where children can consume their meals,” Brown said. “Once one group of children has finished their meals and exited the bus, it could be moved to another location, creating a mobile feeding site to help meet the unique nutritional needs in each neighborhood.”

The proposed legislation also would establish a new food license for family childcare providers that would permit them to offer fresh produce.

“Currently, in order to serve fresh produce family childcare providers are required to secure the same commercial food license needed by supermarkets and restaurants which is prohibitive,” Brown said.

SB 11 is co-sponsored by Sens. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, Charleta Tavares, D-Bexley, Shirley Smith, D-Cleveland, Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, Eric Kearney, D-Cincinnati, Joe Schiavoni, D-Canfield, Capri Cafaro, D-Warren, Tom Sawyer, D-Akron, Nina Turner, D-Cleveland, Michael Skindell, D-Lakewood, and Frank LaRose, R-Copley.

The bill is before the Senate Medicaid, Health and Human Services committee.

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