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Summer food program planned again for Fayette area

| Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank hopes to see more participation in its Summer Food Service Program offered in various sites throughout Fayette County.

The program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, offers free meals to children 18 and younger in areas with a large percentage of low-income households.

“There is no cap in the number of meals that we can serve to children in the summer,” said Cindy Moore of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

The Fayette County Summer Food Service Program task force is working on ideas and suggestions on how it can reach more children in the county to take advantage of the program.

About 40 sites throughout the county offer the program. Any children within the areas of participating school districts can take advantage.

Districts and private schools that have participated include Connellsville, Brownsville, Frazier, Laurel Highlands and Champion Christian School and Hardy Family Center in Farmington.

Calvary Baptist Church in Uniontown serves as a site under the Laurel Highlands School District. Since the program's inception, the church site has enjoyed a steady increase in the number of children that is sees everyday during the summer.

“We started with two children, and we are now up to about 70 kids that participate,” said church pastor Joe Ritz.

The task force is looking into ways to draw more children to the sites, including offering activities.

“Kids don't really want to come out for just a meal,” Moore said. “We need activities to attract the young people to the program.”

In addition to attracting more children to participating sites, the task force wants to find more groups and organizations interested in setting up and sponsoring sites. More volunteers are also needed to help with the program.

“Volunteers are what is needed,” said Sandra Moore, executive director for the Fayette County Association for the Blind. “You need people who are willing to transport the food. That is a huge problem with many of the sites.”

Younger volunteers who may offer interaction with the children are another need.

“You have to have activities to bring these kids in,” said Gerald Lofstead, food service director for Laurel Highlands School District. “You need younger volunteers who will interact with the kids.”

“We are out knocking on doors and pounding the pavement in our effort to try to introduce this program,” Cindy Moore said. “We want to do what we can to increase this program.”

For information on the program, call the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank at 412-460-3663.

Marilyn Forbes is a freelance writer.

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