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Demand for Free Food

June 18th, 2009 by flanews

An increasing number of kids are turning to schools and charities for meals. 600 million federal dollars have been spent to feed kids in Florida though the National School Lunch Program. As Whitney Ray tells us the state will need 62 million more to keep up with the demand.

Florida schools serve free and reduced lunches to kids from low income families.

But even though the school playgrounds and classrooms are empty the need is still there.

A delivery truck brings boxed lunches to kids at this Boys and Girls Club. During the summer charities help serve meals to hungry kids. As the economy sours the Boys and Girls Club is seeing a spike in kids needing food.

This is my third summer here. The first summer we averaged about 115. This year we are up in the 135, 140, said Charles Smith.

The state draws down federal money to repay charities feeding kids. The program has already burned through its budget for the program and needs 62 million more dollars to keep going.

This is a federal program and its a reimbursement program. So how the process works is, these sites are set up, they have the dollars they need to provide meals right now and then they submit a reimbursement request, said Erin Geraghty, a spokesperson with the Department of Education.

Regional President of the Boys and Girls Clubs Buddy Streit said without the free meals some kids would go without.

Certainly there are some of our kids in the Boys and Girls Club that wont have any food until the next day when they come back to us, said Streit.

In Florida 1.4 million kids qualify for free and reduced lunches and the number is growing. The state set up 30 new feeding sites this summer to keep up with the need.

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