What You Need to Know About Summer Lunch Programs

For many families school not only plays a role in providing education to their children. School also provides some families much needed sustenance and a safe place to stay in after school programs. Once school is out for the summer these same families are faced with the challenge of finding the additional food required to feed their kids while they are home during the day. Having access to a summer lunch in Jacksonville area families is not always possible based on the income of many households. Summer lunch programs allow children to continue to receive the nutritious lunches they were receiving when school was in session.

Thousands of kids are unable to eat three meals a day due to lower incomes for their household. The food programs introduced in Duval County allow children to be given lunches and snacks during the school year. However, once the school year ends these children no longer have access to the foods they require. Since 2012, the Jacksonville Children’s Commission (JCC), a local sponsor of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Summer Lunch Program, decided to continue to provide the food required for both lunches and snacks from June to August for kids in need.

Many local families do not realize the demand for subsidized meals affects more families than they might think. The program provides over 89,000 lunches and 74,000 snacks throughout the Jacksonville area. There are 172 participating locations providing meals and snacks for families who need them.

The program is available to children under 18 Monday through Friday. There are assigned sites that provide the free lunches located at Jacksonville parks, housing complexes, recreation centers, churches, summer camps and 14 public libraries. Banners advertise sites so parents can spot the closest place to their homes. The banner reads “Free Lunch Served Here” as well as the specific time the lunches are served so people know where they can send their children. There is no need for enrolment. Kids can show up on days they need a meal or snack at the allotted time.

The program feeds the kids at no cost to the families and offer nutritionally balanced meals as needed throughout the summer vacation period. Those who are interested need only visit the jaxkids website to find the location nearest them. Kids must then have a way to get to the site at the appropriate time in order to participate.

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