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Summer food resources for students and their families

Posted at 6:47 PM, May 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-24 18:47:18-04

There are over 60,000 children in the Big Bend region that are on free or reduced lunches. Now that the school year's over, local programs are making sure students don't go hungry this summer.

As the bell rings for the last time this school year, 11,600 food insecure students in Leon County aren't sure where there next meal will come from.

"When they're here we know they're eating," said Sabal Palm Elementary School Principal Shannon Davis. "We feel confident that they're getting what they need, but in the summer time we don't know because they're not all here on campus."

CEO of the Second Harvest of the Big Bend Monique Ellsworth said the end of the school year can be a burden to some families.

"Families this summer having to make up for the fact that free and reduced school lunches are available for their children means that those families budget is going to be stretched that much more," said Ellsworth.

In an effort to help alleviate this, Ellsworth said they're participating in the Summer Break Spot Program. It's a mobile unit that brings free meals to kids in eight different neighborhoods in Leon county throughout the week.

Ellsworth said the Summer BreakSpot Program is catered towards feeding just the students. However, a new partnership with Leon County School's will allow Ellsworth to help feed students and their families.

"Our summer break program is formed just like that where we're serving just the child, but because we have the expansion of our pantry program from our schools opening up and remaining open all summer long, the entire family's getting serviced," said Ellsworth.

Ten schools in Leon County have pantries, including Sabal Palm Elementary School. Principal Shannon Davis said their pantry, Murdock's Market, is available all summer to ensure families have access to nutritious foods.

"This is for our parents in particular and they can order some shelf food but they can also get things like milk or meats, things that are refrigerated or frozen," said Davis.

In addition to the pantry, Davis said families have access to their food lockers too.

Families who are in need of food this summer can access the food lockers by scanning the QR code on the lockers. About a day later, they'll be sent a pick-up code that they can enter into the tablet that'll open a locker containing a 23 pound box of food.

Davis feels confident in knowing her students have the resources they need.

"We do have lots of options available," said Davis. "We just want to make sure kids don't go hungry."

Second Harvest of Big Bend's Summer BreakSpot Program starts June 5. You can find a list of locations and times on their website.