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FL Summer Meal Program Expands

PHOTO: A new report finds 86 percent of eligible children in Florida don't get free summer lunches. Photo credit: morguefile/fidlerjan
PHOTO: A new report finds 86 percent of eligible children in Florida don't get free summer lunches. Photo credit: morguefile/fidlerjan
June 17, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Eighty-six percent of children in Florida who qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch in summer don't participate, according to a report recently released by the Food Research and Action Center.

Debra Susie, president and chief executive of Florida Impact, who runs the state's summer lunch program, said her organization is reaching out to parents.

"Eligible households with children receive an oversize postcard that lets those families know 'this is where you go to find out if there is a summer food site close to you'," she said.

The number of children served each July actually is up - by about 13,000 children in 2014 compared with the year before. Florida Impact has joined the Department of Agriculture and Meals on Wheels to bring food to children who don't have the transportation to make it to a regular food site.

Congress is set to renew funding for summer lunch programs this fall. Susie said she hopes lawmakers will expand the effort.

"We have such confidence and support for the summer food and the after-school supper program that I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do with this congressional reauthorization to make them even better," she said.

Congress also will consider a proposal to streamline the process so schools can apply for both the summer and school-year programs at the same time.

More information is online at frac.org or summerfoodflorida.org.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - FL