Public schools offering free meals during the summer

Sumer meal (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Any student in Duval County regardless of what school they attend will be able to go to the IDEA Bassett public school campus and get two free meals a day for more than a month this summer.

The staff expects to feed at least 500 kids.

Breakfast and lunch are going to be served to any child in Duval County 18 years old and younger from June 12 to July 21.

“We just want to provide a safe space,” said Jessica Brown, who is the assistant principal of operations and manages the cafeteria. “A lot of our scholars do not have things to eat while their parents are going to work. They can still get school lunch for their scholars.”

Breakfast will run from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. The menu includes hot breakfast items, cereal, milk, juice, and fruit.

Lunch is going to be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Students can eat baked chicken, mashed potatoes, fruit, and vegetables, among other food.

Katoya McCaskill is the principal at the school that is wrapping up its first full year open to students.

She wants to make sure kids are not worried about not having something to eat.

“It actually means that parents trust us,” McCaskill said. “Because they trust us with a part of their story that is vulnerable, it really, really, makes me feel like we have done our job this year. [Doing this in] our founding year, as being a part of the family, being a part of a team, and being in a partnership.”

Thousands of kids are experiencing food insecurity currently in northeast Florida. That means they do not know where or how they will get their next meal.

According to Feeding America, 1 in 7 children are food insecure.

There are more than 43,000 kids in Duval County experiencing that problem.

“They know that they can come and say, ‘Hey, I am having some trouble,’” McCaskill said about students and even their parents or guardians. “We can be there for them. It is important that they know that, and that trust is built.”

“That is what’s going to make us happy,” Brown said of feeding any student in Duval County. “We are being team and family, and keeping that community respect and promise that we said. We are here for you all. That is what IDEA stands for.”

Parents and guardians are also permitted to eat the meals with a student they bring. However, they will be required to pay $5 cash for each meal.

Meals will not be offered June 19, and from July 3 through July 7.

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