Free summer lunch program feeding more hungry kids

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati's free summer lunch program is being hailed a success with up to 200 new kids getting meals everyday.

Last summer the program served well over 100,000 meals and this year it is on track to serve even more. The meals make a big difference for kids like Tiana Brown, 12. She says "Sometimes I don't get enough to eat at home, but I do get a lot to eat here."

Sherwin Ealy, Principal of the Academy of Multilingual Immersion Studies or AMIS says a full stomach makes a better student. "There's nothing that mathematics, science or anything interesting in that classroom can offset somebody's hunger. So its crucial that they do have something to eat."

Seventh grader Alexis Lindsay says its easier to concentrate when she's not hungry. "I think its easier to have a full stomach than an empty stomach because when you have an empty stomach you can't focus right in school."

The Academy of World Languages or AWL in Evanston has students from 42 different countries with different tastes which means you can't please everyone. Sidi Abderrahmane Ould, 8, says the menu can get monotonous. "They always have the same thing."

However, AWL Principal Jackie Rowedder says most kids are hungry and happy to get the free meals. "When they pick up their sack... go sit down they are ripping through the bags trying to get through it so our program has probably tripled this year over what we've done over the past couple of years."

Food Services Director Jessica Shelly says thousands of eligible kids aren't taking advantage of the program. "Usually during the school year we serve about 40-thousand meals a day and our population of students who are eligible for a free or reduced meal is right around 73.5-percent so we know that there's kids out there that are no longer getting a healthy meal during the lunch time hour because they're not in school with us."

Schools are among the 92 sites across the city where free breakfasts and lunches are served including public libraries, recreation centers and public pools.

The program continues through August 10th.

For more information call 800-481-6885

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