Campers taking advantage of free snacks, lunches
The Lee County School District Summer Food Service Program, which is being offered at more than 70 sites in the district this summer, is mostly benefiting children who are enrolled in summer camps.
Ali Moulton, site director for Four Freedoms Park, said the center has fed a morning snack and lunch to between 45 to 75 kids who are 5 to 11 years old every day since last month.
“The children we are feeding this year are children enrolled in the camp or a parks and recreation function,” she said.
Moulton said last year the facility fed a few residents who were not enrolled in the camp. So far this year, they have only fed kids who are enrolled in the weekly camps.
“Overall it is a good program,” Moulton said, because it is more affordable for parents who have kids enrolled in camp, which costs $89 a week. “I think it is a good thing to provide food for the community.”
The kids typically have their snack of chocolate graham crackers, animal crackers, Goldfish pretzels and grape or apple juice between 8:30-9 a.m. Lunch is then served between 11:30-12:30 p.m., Moulton said, which consists of some of the kids favorites of nachos, fruit, vegetables, milk and fajitas.
She said the program is very beneficial to the parents because the facility is able to offer free snacks and lunch to their kids.
Pelican Extended, a summer camp at Pelican Elementary School, has also solely benefited kids who are registered for the camp.
Christine Chandler, director of Pelican Elementary School summer camp, said the camp has fed between 50-60 kids between the ages of 5-10 every day.
Although the summer camp program offered at Pelican consists mostly of students who attend the school, some travel from other schools in the district. Chandler said it is mostly an academic camp where the students play and learn at the same time, while taking field trips three times a week to different places.
She said the school has seen quite an increase this year from previous years of kids who are benefiting from the program — mainly of the youngsters attending camp. This year, and last year, Chandler said they have not fed any neighborhood kids.
The kids receive lunch and an afternoon snack every day.
“I think it’s great,” Chandler said about the program. “As far as the children go, they always have something to eat.”
She said the children’s mothers do not have to worry about packing a lunch because they will receive a good balanced meal for the day.
“The parents really appreciate the fact that we provide that for them,” she said. “Overall everyone who gets a lunch enjoys it.”
Other options for lunch include a snack pack of pepperoni sticks, cheese and applesauce and bologna and cheese sandwiches.
“They are generally making things for the kids that they generally enjoy,” Chandler said.
Holeigh Morin, William “Bill” Austen Youth Center recreation specialist, said although the center would certainly feed kids off of the street, it mainly provides a morning snack and lunch for kids who are enrolled in the summer camp. The program benefits 75-90 kids between the ages of 5-17 years old a week.
She said every year the summer camp is maxed out.
Morin said it is a great program that definitely benefits the parents.
“It is an added bonus especially with these hard economic times,” she said. “It is one less thing the parents have to worry about financially.”
Last year Morin said the center was able to help residents who were not enrolled in the camp, but have not helped any yet this year.
Rotary Park is one of the few sites that has had the opportunity of providing assistance to children who were not enrolled in its summer camp.
Katie Locklin, Rotary Park recreation specialist, said this week the program is benefiting 23 kids who are enrolled in summer camp. In addition they have provided lunch for 86 other youths in Cape Coral. The camp is held for 7-14 year olds.
“I hope it can continue,” Locklin said. “It is really beneficial for everyone … gives them the chance to have lunch without worrying about cost. I think it is good for families all around.”
Approximately 10 young members from the neighborhood ranging between 4-6 years old have also benefited from the program at Rotary Park at least two or three times each.
Locklin said a family of six children benefited from the program at Rotary Park before they found a location that was closer to where they lived.
She said this is the first year members from the community have taken advantage of the program who were not enrolled in summer camp.
The lunches are also a hit at Rotary Park.
“The kids really enjoy it,” Locklin said. “They like the meals.”
For a list of sites that offer the Summer Food Services Program, visit www.lee-schools.net/info/summer/summerfoodprogram.htm.