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Summer Feeding Kickoff slotted for Monday

By Staff | May 31, 2018

Youths 18 and younger have the opportunity to partake in a free lunch program at Jim Jeffers Park this summer, as well as participate in some activities through the Fun-Mobile.

Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Marketing Coordinator Michelle Dean said Cape Coral Parks & Recreation is providing the site for the School District of Lee County Food & Nutrition Services sponsored U.S. Department of Agriculture Summer Food Service Program.

School District of Lee County Food and Nutrition Services Marketing Director Breanna Gustafson said this is the first time they are holding a Summer Feeding Kickoff, an event they hope to continue in the future.

“A kickoff day would be a great opportunity to get the community involved and let everyone know about the resources during the summertime,” she said, adding that it is important to “get out there and meet the community and the parents and be there to answer any questions and be actively involved in our community and not just our schools.”

Gustafson said the lunches that will be served this summer are ones that are normally offered in the school cafeterias, such as hamburgers, crispy chicken sandwiches and pizza pockets, all served with a vegetable and fruit.

The Summer Feeding Kickoff event will take place from 11 a.m. to noon Monday, June 4, at Jim Jeffers Park, 2817 SW 3rd Lane. The free lunch program at the park will run from June 4 through July 27 with the exception of July 4.

Some of the options offered for Monday include a turkey and cheese wedge, fruit cup and goldfish. Gustafson said they will also offer samples of a cold tropic, slushes.

As far as the menu goes it is a peanut free with alternatives provided for common allergies.

“Each child that is 18 and younger will get a free nutritious lunch,” which will include a vegetable, fruit and protein, Dean said.

Gustafson said they are big on educating the community on why it is important to eat nutritious, whole foods, a component of the Summer Feeding Kickoff.

“It’s really a big community project,” Gustafson said.

Dean said they are able to offer the food program at Jim Jeffers Park because of their new Cape Coral Parks & Recreation Fun-Mobile , which provides an activity. The Fun-Mobile will be at the park every day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to noon.

The Fun-Mobile offers crafts, games and basketball.

“The Fun-Mobile just started rolling out in April,” she said of the refurbished van. “It’s solar powered and packed with games and things to do.”

Dean is hoping many youngsters will come to the Summer Feeding Kickoff.

“There is no limit, or no financial limitation. If we have 300 kids, they will find 300 nutritious meals,” she said of the school district. “They are the ones that will be handling the food, preparing the food. They will oversee the temp of the food and the condition.”

The Cape Coral Parks & Recreation program currently serves more than 400 lunches a day through their three site locations currently in the summer break spots in conjunction with their summer camps. Dean said that number doubles because some of the locations include breakfast and lunch.

Dean said youngsters can also use the other locations, which host summer camps, to obtain their free lunch.

“The public can still come. Any kid 18, or younger, can still receive a free meal. We are trying to keep the kids nourished over the summer,” she said.

Gustafson said families can text “FoodFL” to 877-877, or visit www.summerbreakspot.org, to see where the closest location is to their home for youngsters 18 and younger to receive a free lunch. She said she will also hand out posters of all the locations at the Summer Feeding Kickoff event Monday.

The Summer Food Program, the Summer Breakspot Program, is federally funded through the USDA and is administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Florida.