Kids Enjoy Free Meals
Published July 10th, 2012
By: Yaremi Farinas
When the school year ends, so does the chance for a regular meal for some students.
Under a federally funded program, however, the cafeterias remain open at many schools around Alachua County.
Parents can bring their children to school for lunch during the summer. Even some summer camps take advantage of the program.
"We do have kids that for sure we know didn't eat breakfast and we also have kids that just wouldn't come with lunches," said Natasha Williams.
Kids at the FOCUS summer camp in Gainesville are not only enjoying their daily activities, but also some free meals. Williams is a teacher at the camp. She told us how important these free meals are for both the kids and their parents.
"A lot of them can't afford to send lunch with their students, so they don't have to worry about that either. Same thing with breakfast. If they are leaving early at 7:30 a.m. to go to work, they don't have to worry about trying to feed their kids before they go because they know we will handle that," said Williams.
The kids hop on a bus and take a short trip to Lincoln Middle School.
"Come in and enjoy the air condition, get a well balanced meal and they can take their fruit home with them if they would like," said Jane Hurley who is the cafeteria manager at Lincoln Middle School.
Hurley said she's been serving summer meals for more than 20 years and doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.
"I love feeding the kids. I love having them talk to me. I love seeing them out in the community later on once they graduate and let me know how they are doing. It's very rewarding. I am actually feeding some of their children now that I have feed in the past," said Hurley.
She said about 450 meals are served a day in Alachua County. Grilled cheese sandwiches, corn dogs, and ham and cheese are a few options on the menu.
Although Hurley notices more kids come in for one of their favorites.
"They love pizza. everybody loves that square pizza. So they come on Thursday for pizza," said Hurley.
As for the kids in the FOCUS summer camp, getting the free meals is part of their daily routine.
"This is definitely a way to make sure that all kids are eating," said Williams.
So that no kid in Alachua County goes hungry.
Anyone 18 and under is allowed to get a free meal at any of the 27 schools in across the county.
As for infants, they can get free formula.
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