Last summer, we wrote about the thousands of children in Escambia County who left without daily meals once their schools shut down for the summer (“Hunger Games”). With the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Florida Secretary of Adam Putnam has developed a summer program to help fill in the gap.
By talk, text, app or web, Florida’s families have more ways than ever to find free healthy meals for their children this summer now that school is out.
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam announced today the kickoff of the 2014 Summer BreakSpot program, which offers free nutritious meals, recreational fun and educational activities for children 18 and under at 3,400 locations statewide during summer.
This year, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is modernizing access by allowing families to locate nearby meal sites through multiple platforms:
· Dial 2-1-1
· Text “FoodFL” to 877-877
· Download the “Nutrislice” smartphone app
· Visit www.SummerFoodFlorida.org
“We want kids across Florida to eat healthy, wholesome food throughout the school year and all summer long,” Commissioner Putnam said. “This program helps ensure children have access to healthy meals during the summer, along with enrichment activities and time with their friends, so they are ready to learn in the fall when school is back in session.”
Last year, the program provided more than 12 million meals to about 300,000 children, continuing the increase in summer meals the state has seen since the Florida Department of Agriculture took over the school nutrition program in 2011. Florida ramped up participation in the program by 11.6 percent between 2012 and 2013.
Last year, new mobile units in counties around the state began transporting breakfasts and lunches to children in underserved communities during the summer. In Broward, Orange, Palm Beach and Pasco counties this year, fleets of renovated school buses, trucks and vans will deliver summer meals and provide a safe place for recreation by making stops at parks and recreation centers, affordable housing units and other locations that lack an established Summer BreakSpot site.
Summer BreakSpot is part of the national Summer Food Service Program, a federally funded program operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered in Florida by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Eligible sponsors, including nonprofit organizations, schools, churches, camps, local governments and more, serve nutritious meals and snacks free to low-income children under the age of 18 during the summer months.