According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, more than half of Florida’s public school students are eligible for free or reduced priced meals during the academic year. Yet during summer vacation, the need for healthy, fresh foods can actually increase. But some local community groups are teaming up to try and fill in the gap.
During the school year, some Leon County cafeterias are packed with kids getting what may be their only dependable meal of the day. But Rick Minor says hunger doesn’t take a summer vacation. He heads Second Harvest of the Big Bend.
“We see at Second Harvest a huge surge in demand for people seeking food from us, because in large part those kids don’t have the school meals they relied on during the school months,” Minor said.
Thanks to Florida’s Summer Break Spot program, there are some places kids can go to eat, at no cost. Local churches like Bethel AME and organizations like the Boys and Girls Club will open their doors and offer meals and activities. But even with these programs, Becky Liner says the need it still out there.
“There are a lot of people in Tallahassee doing a lot of good work to address the hunger issue. But unfortunately it’s an issue that’s going to stay with us for a long time. And we really can’t ever do enough,” Liner said.
She’s an organizer behind A Full Summer. That’s a food packaging event taking place June 3rd at Godby High School. Volunteers will prepare some 60,000 meals to donate to the Second Harvest of the Big Bend. Between the ready-made dinners and canned goods, organizers hope the program will help meet some of the increased demand this summer.
Learn more about A Full Summer and food insecurity in our area by listening to this week's episode of Perspectives.