Free summer meals for kids

By Nikki Kimbleton - The Morning Show anchor
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YMCA Charter School, Tiger Academy, is just one location in Jacksonville offering the free summer meals program from the USDA.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Summer should be a fun, carefree time for kids but not all of them have that luxury. Sadly, thousands in our area worry about getting enough food in the summers when they can't rely on getting breakfast or lunch at school.

The USDA summer food service program changes that. The program makes sure anyone 18 and under who needs food gets it. We had a chance to visit Tiger Academy, one of the schools participating this year, catering to kids in their area.

Lunch time (pictures above) is a favorite for the kids at YMCA Charter School Tiger Academy. All the talking and smiles are heart warming for the staff because for some of these kids, food is scarce.

Principal Charles McWhite said, "Some children come to school hungry at times.
Sure enough there are students who don't have enough to eat and we try to do whatever to assist in that process."

Around 70 percent of the students here are on the federal free and reduced lunch program. They get nutritious meals during the school year but when summer comes, things can get dicey. That's why they're hosting the USDA program that provides free meals. It's not just for these kids, but for anyone in the neighborhood.

McWhite told us, "I think about myself, I perform and function better when my hunger is satisfied. Same thing with our children. It makes them better." McWhite sees first hand the benefits of kids who are getting nutritious meals. "We make sure our students are eating every single day because if they are hungry at school, they're not going to be able to function."

A lot of the students here will be attending the summer camp at Tiger Academy. They will automatically get the free meals but there will be food available for any student 18 and under. All they have to do is come by. "For them to be able to come to Tiger Academy duringĀ  the summer and make sure they have a nutritious meal everyday will work wonders and pay huge dividends for our students," McWhite said.

The USDA's summer meals program is offered all over our area. Click here and enter your address to find the location closest to you.

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