Hunger relief organization continues to proactively address food insecurity
for children and families during the ongoing pandemic
(St. Louis, Mo., May 6, 2021) Operation Food Search (OFS), a non-profit hunger relief organization, recently distributed the one-millionth child’s meal through its Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
The pandemic created an emergency response need, so OFS started its continuous SFSP service in March of 2020 to provide immediate food assistance for children. SFSP, which is funded by the USDA, ensures that children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.
Each daily food package contains whole grains, a full cup of fruit and vegetables, dairy, and protein. Families can pick up breakfast and lunch, for two days at a time, at any OFS partner location on Mon., Wed., and Fri. Each child can receive up to 12 meals per week. This is the ninth year OFS has managed the free program that typically runs from the beginning of June through the second week in August.
“In a typical summer, we serve 2,000 meals a week, and now we’re serving 20,000,” said OFS Director of Child and Family Nutrition Brian Wieher. “We have worked with community locations – such as libraries and community centers – and flipped our model to do drive-through, contactless distributions three days a week. We’ve kept it consistent so the community would know they could rely on the food.”
Wieher credits strong partnerships with organizations like the St. Louis County Library for making it possible to also provide meals to adults and families through summer meal distributions. More than an additional 800,000 meals and 500,000 pounds of fresh produce were provided at summer food sites to families. “These are all different programs that we’ve brought into the same space in order to be more efficient with our staff and volunteers,” Wieher said.
Pictured from left to right are Operation Food Search team members Lucia Burton, Brooklyn Swyers, Brian Wieher and Melissa Weissler. The pictured bag contains two child meals – one breakfast and one lunch.
Founded in 1981, Operation Food Search (OFS) is a hunger relief organization located at 1644 Lotsie Blvd. that provides free food, nutrition education and innovative programs proven to reduce food insecurity. With a strategic focus aimed at ending childhood hunger, OFS empowers families and increases access to healthy and affordable food. The agency provides food and services to 200,000 individuals on a monthly basis – one-third of whom are children – through a network of 330 community partners in 27 Missouri and Illinois counties and the city of St. Louis. For more information, call (314) 726-5355 or visit Operation Food Search.