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Hamilton Co. receives $90K to feed hungry kids

Hamilton Co. receives $90K to feed hungry kids.
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 8:32 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Hamilton County school district has the highest rate of hungry kids in all of Florida.

A third of children in the county are considered food insecure.

So, the district is expanding its efforts to provide meals to families throughout the summer.

“Some kids kind of hide it,” 10th grader Kei’lashia Jones said. They kind of try to not show it.”

Jones says food insecurity isn’t something most of her classmates like to talk about, but it’s a reality for many of them.

“We know that we have lot of hungry kids coming to school daily,” Ida Daniels, the Food Services Director, said.

Daniels has been the food services director for more than 30 years.

She says in a rural county like Hamilton, which has only one grocery store, providing meals for students is essential.

That’s why the district provides free breakfast and lunch for all students, and, thanks to a new $90,000 grant from an organization called “No Kid Hungry, the district will be expanding its summer meal services.

“We do know that summer is really the hungriest time of the year for children,” said Sky Beard, the director for Florida’s “No Kid Hungry” program. “Because so many of them to rely on their school meal as the way that they get their primary source of nutrition.”

Even with the new money, school staff members are worried about keeping kids fed this summer.

When the pandemic hit, the USDA allowed schools to adapt flexible feeding programs. But those changes expire at the end of this school year.

“Those flexibilities are really important,” Beard said. “They allowed programs such as here at Hamilton to put meals on buses, and get the food to the kids where they were, and some of those options are not going to be available.”

This means kids will now have to come to school each day during the summer to get their meals, which is just not possible for most students, who might not have access to transportation.

Staff say they’re looking at creative ways to find a solution.

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