With summer school under way and summer camps starting up, there’s more than just education provided — there’s also free food.
At Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School, anyone younger than 18 can eat breakfast and lunch for free through June 30.
“The director before me started this about 10 years ago,” said Tiffany Lommel, director of the program for Gainesville City Schools.
“It’s extremely important, especially with the economy as it is because it provides healthy and nutritious meals to kids during the summer.”
Federally funded under the Summer Food Service Program, the service is used as part of summer educational programs such as English for Speakers of Other Languages summer school, special education extended summer school, Boys & Girls Clubs activities and the leadership camp organized by the Newtown Florist Club.
“You don’t have to sign up, just show up. If you want, just come one time,” Lommel said. “We’re happy to feed anyone and have averaged 500 to 600 children a day. We hope to do that again and would love to have even more.”
The breakfast is offered 8-8:45 a.m., and the lunch is offered from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
For Sonya Frost, lunchroom manager at Fair Street, being a part of the program is particularly rewarding.
“The students are always appreciative and tell me they enjoyed the meal,” she said. “They smile and say ‘See you tomorrow!’”
She said the program is especially important for students with working parents.
“We need to make sure these kids get a healthy meal during the summer,” she said. “You never know when they may be left alone at home or situations like that.”
The program is also getting a kick start this summer at New Holland Core Knowledge Academy as the school hosts Gainesville Parks and Recreation and YMCA summer camps. Community members of all ages are welcome to grab a bite to eat.
“This is the first year the building has been open all summer, and this opens us up to allow the community to come in,” Principal Pam Wood said. “It’s optimally important because of the population we have here. Because of the language barrier, people sometimes feel intimidated or not comfortable, and we want our building to be open and comfortable for the entire community.”