|Published:||May 12, 2010 11:21 PM EDT|
|Updated:||May 12, 2010 11:21 PM EDT|
LEE COUNTY, Fla - There is a crisis in Lee County: A record number of kids in the school district are on free or reduced price lunch.
Now a task force is working overtime to make sure these thousands of kids do not go hungry over the summer.
"It's a huge concern," said Jennifer Pelletier, a mom.
Pelletier is a single mom, works full time and struggles to get by.
"When you have to pay for daycare, electric, water, you struggle to make everything meet," she says.
Her two kids are among 56,000 students in the Lee County Public School System getting a free or reduced-price lunch.
The district has 80,000 students.
As of right now, 70% of them participate in the program.
This is a 20% increase since the 2007-2008 school year and all time high.
Jennifer worries what will happen this summer.
"When summer hits there's no more free lunch or breakfast at school," she said.
But Wayne Nagie has a plan.
He is Director of Food and Nutrition for the district.
He and his task force have a plan to feed hungry kids this summer.
"We have a lot of families out there have no idea where to get help," he said.
Their solution: a Monday through Friday food program at 72 locations - like schools and parks - across the county.
It's free for kids 18 and younger all you have to do is register.
Once you do, you will be assigned to the nearest location for the program.
There are no income guidelines for the summer meal program.
Just call 1-800-622-5985.
"We want to make sure we feed the children so they come back next year ready to learn," Nagie said about the importance of the program.
The number of hungry students reflects a bigger problem in Lee County.
"Food demand is up 150% in the last three years. That's a lot of families," said Al Brislain, Director of the Harry Chapin Food Bank.
He says while the school district is feeding kids, the food bank is doing what it can to feed the rest of the family.
"We're doing mobile food distribution trying to get it out to the public," he said."
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