MIDDLETOWN, Ohio - A program discontinued for hungry children in Ohio is now being funded again after a one year disruption.
Last year, the state of Ohio removed children living in mobile home parks from the list of those eligible for summer lunches because the trailer communities are not considered not-for-profit. That decision left many families scrambling for ways to feed their children last summer.
But on Monday, the food was distributed practically outside their doors.
A small tent was set up next to a playground near the entrance to the Catalina Trailer Park in Middletown on Monday.
"Oh, I'm very happy it's back," said Maghen Reek who lives in the area. "We're gonna be down here every day. Definitely."
The summer lunch program in Middletown is administered by Family Services of Middletown. It's been around for 29 years. Officials say last year's absence in the mobile home park had a definite impact.
"In the eyes of many participants and parents, the program was gone," said Maurice Maxwell, executive director of Family Services of Middletown.
Parents say they needed the program to help make ends meet.
"For many families, this is the only meal their kids get," said Stephanie Snyder, a parent from the trailer park.
A large number of children live in the area. Maxwell estimates the number of children living in four trailer parks excluded from the program last year at over 3,000.
"Every trailer is filled with kids," said Reek. "When my son gets on the bus, we pack that bus full in the mornings," she said.
Lunches are served to any child in the trailer community between the ages of one and 18. Eligibility is based on census data or whether the kids are eligible for free school lunches. The lunches also have to be consumed on the premises by the children.
Now that the funding for the program has been restored, volunteers who distribute the lunches have to make sure parents know the food is available.
"We're in the process of re-establishing awareness," said Maxwell. "We're getting kids out to enjoy these wonderful lunches we serve."
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