School may be out for the summer, but hungry kids can still find nutritiously balanced meals, at no charge, at five locations in the Middle and Lower Keys.
The Monroe County School District, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness, invite youth, aged 18 and younger, to take part in the Summer BreakSpot program, which has been in place in the county for several years.
The program aims to keep bellies full during summer vacation, when school breakfasts and lunches are not available, and is offered in geographical areas where 50 percent or more of children qualify for free and reduced-price meals during the school year.
Sites serving food include Poinciana Elementary School, Horace O'Bryant Middle School, Key West High School, the Boys and Girls Club, at 1302 White St., and Marathon Middle High School.
"The menu is similar, but not exactly the same, as during the school year," said Monroe County Schools Food Service Supervisor Deb Stecklein. "This year for lunch we'll be serving warm sandwiches, juice, fruit and milk. We'll also be serving breakfast at the schools, but not at the Boys and Girls Club. They've opted to serve lunch and an afternoon snack, as they keep their kids later in the afternoon."
Food service begins Wednesday, and will run Monday through Friday in most locations through July 17.
Breakfast will be served at 7:45 a.m. at the four schools. Lunch will be served at 11 a.m. at Poinciana, at 11:15 a.m. at HOB and KWHS, at 11:30 a.m. at Marathon Middle High, and at 11 a.m. at the Boys and Girls Club.
"These sites are open, so that any child aged 18 and younger is allowed to participate," Stecklein said. "We do not question where you live, or whether you qualify, and no ID is required. Most of the participation is younger kids anyway. We hope a lot of students will join us this summer for this valuable program."
Registered Dietician Wendy Holifield of the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County expressed support for Summer BreakSpot.
"The program is wonderful," Holifield said. "Anytime you can get at least one nutritious meal in the summer time offered to kids, is great. Most of these kids get free or reduced-price meals during the school year, but still need to eat in the summer. We're ecstatic that someone in the Keys is offering the program this year."
For more information, call 293-1400, ext. 53356, visit www.summerfoodflorida.org or dial 211.