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Free meals for children available over the summer

By Staff | Jun 7, 2017

Several sites across Cape Coral will provide free meals to children during the summer.

This week, the Lee County School District kicked off its participation in the USDA Summer Food Service Program, which provides free nutritious meals to children ages 18 and under. Running through July 28, the program does not require a certain income level or registration for children to utilize it.

Lorina Woods, program coordinator for the district, explained that school breakfasts and lunches are not available in the summer. The program provides children with meals outside of the school year.

“It’s so that children in needy areas can still receive meals over the summer,” she said.

Currently, 99 sites are offering at least one breakfast, lunch or snack service.

“At least one, maybe two, meal services,” Woods said.

“We have churches, YMCAs, our schools,” she added.

Children do not have to be enrolled in the school system to be eligible. According to officials, school sites will provide the meals to students in summer school and children in the immediate vicinity.

“The only requirement is that they’re a child between the ages of 0 and 18,” Woods said.

Last summer, Lee County administered the program for 33 days in total.

“It was a short summer,” she said.

According to Woods, 68,400 breakfasts and 114,253 lunches were served, along with 42,088 snacks. On average, 2,073 breakfasts and 3,462 lunches were served every day, along with 1,275 snacks.

She explained that the meals are typical to those served during the school year.

“The components are similar,” Woods said.

To use in the program, children must be at a participating site during the serving times.

“The important thing is that they have to be there during the time of meal service,” she said.

It is recommended that families contact the sites to find out when the serving times are.

“It’s not required, but we recommend it,” Woods said.

She also suggested letting a site know if a child will be eating there daily.

“It is a good idea to call the site ahead of time, so the site knows to have enough,” Woods said.

According to officials, the Summer Food Service Program is approved for geographical areas of need where 50 percent of more of the children qualify for free and reduce price meals during the school year.

To locate sites and meal service times, visit: www.summerfoodflorida.org.

Those without Internet access can contact the United Way at 211.

Families can also text “FoodFL” to 877-877 for details.

For information, visit call 239-461-8449 or visit: www.leeschools.net/.