CLEVELAND — Now that we’re getting into summer and school is out, many children are more likely to face hunger.

What You Need To Know

  • Summer break can be a difficult time for families that are food insecure 

  • We have a list of different programs across the state that provide free lunches 

  • According to Feeding America, more than 1 million people in Ohio are facing hunger and half of them are children


According to the most recent data from the Children’s Defense Fund Ohio, nearly half of all kids qualified for free lunches during the 2022-23 school year.

According to Feeding America, more than 1 million people in Ohio are facing hunger and half of them are children. This can be extra difficult for some families during the summer, as they relied on their children getting fed at school. Fortunately, there are lunch programs available during the summer to help out.

“Not every child is fortunate to have a consistent meal at home every day and a lot of the time school supplements that, whether it’s breakfast or lunch, it’s just something to eat,” said Monica Bracey.

Bracey and her 3 kids decided to spend their summer day at the Cleveland Public Library. When they got there, they were surprised to find out they were offering free lunch. 

“I think having that option for parents to at least feed their kids once a day over the summer is better than nothing,” Bracey said.

Bracey is especially thankful for the library offering the free lunches because she got them as a kid herself. 

“I hope that whatever funding or resources that is required to keep it going is continued to be poured into the community because it’s important even I myself used to get free lunches and stuff and I’m 31 years old now,” Bracey said.

Similar programs are being offered across the state. In Cincinnati, Andre Allen Sr. manages the cafeteria for IDEA Schools. 

He said sometimes these are the only meals the students get. 

“So it’s our way of committing to the local communities to give back healthy meals and provide an active and healthy meal to the community kids,” Allen said.

He also once relied on free lunches.

“For me personally, it’s just about giving back to kids that may be less fortunate. I was one of those kids at one point in time, so for me personally, I take it as a personal challenge to give back each and every day in any way I can and this is just one more avenue to do so,” Allen said.

In Columbus, the Columbus Recreation and Parks has a summer free meals program called Go, Lunch!. Last year, the department served over two thousand meals. 

Here are links to free lunch programs offered in different cities across the state: