Summer meal programs help Southwest Florida families keep kids fed


FORT MYERS, Fla. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is donating food to local summer feeding programs.

The programs provide meals to neighborhoods where more than 50 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced meals. The goal is to provide nutritious foods to youngsters in families whose food assistance from the government does not increase during the summer months.

“During summertime, the kids are home and they eat more,” said Jennifer Youngs, a director at Suncoast Community Center. “This is a way to feed them and not hit their parents’ budget too hard.”

One Southwest Florida mother, Jen Schenck, agrees: the groceries disappear more quickly when her kids are out of school.

“Well, my son, one of six children, he could eat you out of house and home in one day! The refrigerator is cleared out pretty quick,” Schenck said.

At Suncoast Community Center in North Fort Myers children eat meals similar to those prepared for them in school. Tim Bains said school or not, he still hates carrots.

“I’m eating tacos,” he said. “But I don’t like carrots. But there’s chocolate milk. It’s good.”

Some summer meal locations began their programs Tuesdays. Similar programs in Southwest Florida begin next Monday.

The hours and locations for the summer programs are listed online.

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