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Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Free lunch program for kids gets rolling this summer



freelunch.jpgAs the economy sputters back to life, our colleague Danny Valentine reports here that school districts in Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties have started programs this year to bring free food to kids who get it in school, but don't necessarily have access to healthy, well-balanced meals in the summer.

While there are places in Pinellas County where children can get a free meal, the county does not have a mobile food program like those in Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando.

The need for new ways to reach students during the summer has been growing in recent years, said Lori Drenth, food and nutrition services director for Hernando schools.

Between summer 2010 and last summer, the school district found that participation in typical summer programs like the YMCA and through parks and recreation had dwindled. Cash-strapped parents were having a more difficult time sending their kids to camp.

"We think that a lot of kids are sitting at home," she said.

Since the district feeds many kids through those programs, that meant that fewer kids were getting proper meals.

Drenth had a simple yet difficult problem: How do we find them?

The Cruisin' Cafe was born.

For more information

Here's how to reach the mobile food programs:

Hernando County: (352) 797-7035, ext. 205.

Hillsborough County: 813-272-3422, ext. 333.

Pasco County: 813-794-2439.

In Dover on Monday, Gizell Hernandez, 7, left, and sister Evelyn, 5, take advantage of Hillsborough’s free mobile lunch program.
Photo by [CAROLINA HIDALGO | Times]

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[Last modified: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 9:20am]


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