During the school year, more than 1.6 million Florida students depend on free or reduced price school meals. When school lets out for summer break, many of these students no longer have access to a nutritional meal. Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner kicked off the state’s summer nutrition program today. Summer BreakSpots offers meals to students who need it most, free of charge. Alachua County Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services Director Maria Eunice says this annual program serves areas where more than half the students get free or reduced lunch during the school year.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/Eunice1.mp3]
The process of getting a meal is quite simple for students as long as they make it to the Summer BreakSpot location.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/Eunice3.mp3]
When the students get to the site, Eunice said, a nutritional meal will be ready and waiting.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/Eunice4.mp3]
There are about 3,000 Summer BreakSpots across Florida including some all over Alachua County.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/Eunice5.mp3]
Eunice added Alachua County has seen an increase in the number of students getting free or reduced lunch since the country’s economic downturn. She said there are many kids without food that just don’t show up at the sites. That’s why one of the biggest issues they have every year is getting the word out about the benefits of this program.[audio:http://www.wuft.org/media/audio/Eunice2.mp3]
These Summer BreakSpots are one of the ways Agriculture Commissioner Putnam is working with community leaders to help ensure students in need of food have access to it. Alachua County’s Summer BreakSpots will begin opening in early June.