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Operation Food Search teams up with local libraries to feed hungry kids

Operation Food Search [OFS] has teamed up with area partners to expand its methods for feeding all children ages 18 and under.

A hunger relief organization, OFS has been in business since 1981. It is a food intake and distribution system that supports over 200 different food pantries in the St. Louis region. OFS places a heavy emphasis on nutrition programming, which includes after school meals, summer food services and weekend backpack assistance.

OFS volunteers load food items for delivery through its Lunch at the Library program.
[OFS photo]

The Summer Food Service Program ensures all children receive healthy and delicious meals during the summer months. The program began June 3 with mobile and on-site services at 60 different locations and continues until schools are back in session. Service  hours are 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Operation Food Search has served over 35,000 meals since the program began in 2012; its   2019 goal is to serve a total of 100,000 meals throughout the St. Louis area.

Included in its  stationary locations  are two St. Charles County library branches: the Kathyrn Linneman Branch, 2323 Elm St. in St. Charles and the Middendorf-Kredell Branch, 2750 State Hwy. K in O’Fallon. This stationary event is referred to as Lunch at the Library.

“It’s a fun program and beneficial to the community,” Kristen Sherry, program coordinator of the Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library, explained. “We want the kids to feel welcome, safe and comfortable in the library.”

This is Lunch at the Library’s third year. Middendorf-Kredell is projecting to serve 50 kids a day between the hours of noon and 1 p.m. throughout  summer.

OFS’s goal is to provide a daily dose of nutrition along with a variety of games, arts and crafts, and STEM projects. Also, for the first time ever, kids and teens will have the opportunity to learn about good nutrition through hands-on cooking demonstrations led by OFS’s nutrition education team. This gives kids the opportunity to see what kind of food the program is serving while also trying new things. Each meal provided always has the same five components: a whole grain, dairy, fruit, vegetable and protein.

Brian Wieher, OFS’s director of child and family services, wants children to know they are always welcome.

“Only 1 in 12 kids in need are participating,” Wieher said. “There is room for so many more. We don’t care who you are or where you come from, you don’t have to provide any information about yourselves, we just want to make sure you’re getting a nutritious meal in a welcoming environment!”

Visit operationfoodsearch.org for more information on these events, or contact  Wieher at brian.wieher@operationfoodsearch.org

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