Hillsborough County Offers Free Meal Program During Summer Break

By Tamas Mondovics

In an effort to make sure children are well fed while out of school on summer vacation, Hillsborough County is participating in a Summer Food Service Program, which will effectively provide free nutritious lunches and afternoon snacks to children.

The effort is not new, as the program has been serving local children for years. County officials said that this summer, nearly 500,000 free meals will be served June 13 through August 3 at more than 50 sites throughout Hillsborough County from county and city parks as well as Boys and Girls Clubs or Recreation centers including the Brandon Recreation Center at 510 E. Sadie St.

The sites are located in areas where 50 percent or more of the children qualify for free or reduced price meals during the school year.

“The Summer Food Service Program will provide a balanced meal during summer vacation when school meals are not available,” said summer food Project Coordinator Amy Carieer in an earlier phone interview. “The meals and snacks will be offered at local parks and other community locations to all children under 18 in the area.”

In recent years, the summer meal program saw an average of more than 4,000 meals served daily, shedding light on the provision’s importance.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, an equal opportunity provider and employer. SFSP ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. This summer, USDA plans to serve more than 200 million free meals to children 18 years and under at approved SFSP sites.

The program is federally funded and operated by the Hillsborough County Department of Aging Services.

Applications are not required, and summer camp registration is not a requirement. The meals and snacks will be offered at local parks and other community locations to all children under 18 in the area. A list of approved sites can be found under the Summer Food Service Program link at www.HillsboroughCounty.org/SummerFood. For more information, residents may contact Summer Food Program for Children at 272-5162.