County Promotes Summer Food Service Program For Children

Allyson Peterson, 8, tries some Fish Tacos at last year’s Second Annual Fresh Flavors – Foods for Body and Mind Expo. To ensure children are well fed during this summer, Hillsborough County is running its Summer Food Service Program to children for free.

“What Are Your Kids Going To Eat For The Summer?” was the question of the day for Hillsborough County Family and Aging Services as it takes on the  responsibility to make sure that all area children will be properly fed while out of school this summer .

Hillsborough County Family and Aging Services project coordinator, Amy Carrier, explained that Hillsborough County will feed the children this summer by participating in the Summer Food Service Program, that will run from Monday-Friday, June 11-August 10. The program will provide nutritious lunches and afternoon snacks to children for free at more than 40 sites throughout Hillsborough County.

“This is a federal program that has been in existence for the past three decades, several of which the county has been sponsoring,” Carrier said.

The sites are in geographical areas, including schools, park and community centers, summer camp facilities, Ys or Boys & Girls Clubs and other locations in the community to provide meals to all children in the surrounding area, in addition to those enrolled in summer school, where 50 percent or more of the children qualify for free or reduced price meals during the school year.

“Too often, many children are left searching for unhealthy foods to eat when their parents are working or not in the home,” Carrier said. “When there is not enough food to go around, their nutritional needs are not met and their choices are not always the best.”

The purpose of the Summer Food Program is to provide a balanced meal regardless of race, color, sex, disability, age national origin or income during summer vacation when school breakfasts and lunches are not available.

As for the question of the program’s outcome over the years, Carrier said that it is extremely successful.

“Thousands of children are being fed daily not just a sandwich and a drink, but full meals,” she said.

Applications, eligibility or summer camp registration is not required. Summer Food Program sites are located at   Any child age 18 and under can visit a participating site to eat a free lunch and/or afternoon snack.

Any site interested in serving as a host site, may call 272-5160.  A list of approved sites can be found under the 2012 Summer Food Program Locations link at  www.hillsboroughcounty.org/hss/socialservices/.