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Dayton Public Schools Sees Decline in Summer Food Service Program Participation

Fresh vegetable cups prepared for the National School Lunch Program.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Flickr Creative Commons

About 54-percent of Montgomery County students receive free and reduced-price lunches each school year. But, during the summer, access to a healthy meal can become more difficult.


The Summer Food Service program at Dayton Public Schools has been running since 1968,  according to Director of Nutrition Services, Cathie DeFehr.

“During the summer they don’t have the school to come to,” she said.

 So, DPS Nutrition Services combats that by offering eligible students free, healthy lunches at select locations across the city.

Nationally, many students have found it difficult to access these locations because they can’t find a ride there.

The number of local students coming to the 37 food service sites has been declining, too, but DeFehr says it’s for a different reason.

“Unfortunately, I think Parks and Rec has had budgetary issues, and they have not had as many programs going in different parks and pools around town that kind of draw the kids in and keep them coming back,” she said.

Swimming lessons, vacation bible schools and summer camps are just a few of the programs that DeFehr believes will keep kids coming back.

In the meantime, Nutrition Services continues to send flyers home before school ends and encourage community workers to go door-to-door. DeFehr says that they are looking for new strategies for next year and hoping to get the city more involved.