Operation Food Search Hosts Summer Meals Kickoff
Food & Fun Club serves up nutritious food and educational inspiration
By: Operation Food Search
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. This summer marks OFS's seventh year as a sponsor of the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which is funded by the USDA and ensures that children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.
The summer meal program begins June 3 and runs through Aug. 9 with mobile and stationary service at nearly 60 locations operating Mon. through Fri. between the hours of 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. OFS and community partners – which have served more than 350,000 meals since the program's inception in 2012 – have a 2019 goal to serve a total of 100,000 meals throughout the St. Louis region.
Mobile meal vans will serve locations throughout North City, North St. Louis County, South County and South St. Louis regions via three routes. Stationary service will be offered at two St. Charles City-County Library branches, nine St. Louis County Library branches, and three St. Louis Public Library branches.
OFS's 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. For the first time ever, kids and teens will learn this summer about good nutrition through hands-on cooking demonstrations led by OFS's nutrition education team.
The summer meals program includes the following:
· OFS will team up with 16 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.
· For the very first time, St. Charles County Public Library will serve meals at two branches. OFS has offered the stationary option at several St. Louis County Libraries (SLCL) since 2014 and will continue this year with nine sites. On Thursdays, SLCL will also offer Operation Backpack, a weekend food assistance program provided by OFS. St. Louis Public Libraries, which has been a mobile route partner since 2017, will be a stationary site partner for the first time this year.
· A special event that engages children and their families will pop up on six Fridays 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. The summer meals' newest addition – a cooking demonstration and recipe tasting conducted by OFS' nutrition education team – will highlight produce offerings.
· For information on how to find the nearest summer meal location, test 'Food' 877-877 or 'Comida' 877-877.
"We are proud to add new partners like the St. Charles County Public Library, as well as new services like kids' hands-on cooking demonstrations, to this summertime program," said Operation Food Search Executive Director Kristen Wild. "We remain committed to ending childhood hunger, and we look forward to serving our area communities for the seventh consecutive 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 or visit http://www.OperationFoodSearch.org.