Many kids only eat well when school is in session. Now, state and federal funding is keeping children fed over the summer break.
A lot of kids in Jacksonville and around Florida are getting access to meals that include fruits or vegetables.
The Jacksonville Children’s Commission is among the groups making sure kids eat lunch. Food is doled out at 172 locations around the city, including 14 public libraries.
More than 54,000 lunches and 44,000 snacks were served in the Jacksonville area during two weeks in mid-June.The free food will be available through August 10th for any child who shows up.
The district provides free summer lunches at various locations, but Principal Chris Clayton of Gulfside Elementary School thought there would be a better turnout. The Tampa Tribune reports 85 percent of Gulfside’s students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
So Clayton decided to take the food to the children. A converted school bus drives around neighborhoods near the school, and children can hop aboard for Gulfside Mobile Dining.
The bus makes five stops and provides 40 lunches a day through August 3rd, thanks to federal funding.
The state is doing its part to help.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam launched the Summer BreakSpot program in late May. It provides healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks to anyone under 18 through the summer.
The food is free and is available at locations all over Florida. The program is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Putnam said it’s critical to get food to kids when school is not in session.
“More than 1.6 million students in Florida rely on free and reduced-price meals during the school year,” said Putnam. “By partnering with community organizations like recreation centers, churches and food banks, we can get the food in the hands of the children that need it most.”