The city of St. Petersburg has rolled out a program to feed kids for free this summer. The Free Summer Food Program provides both breakfast and lunch at city-owned properties across St. Pete. Alexis Shuder is with the Parks and Recreation Department.
“The city of St. Petersburg parks and recreation department is sponsoring summer food service program which is through the state’s program through the department of agriculture at our play camp sites for June, July and August this summer. It’s already in progress and it goes through August 16. What we do is we have nutritionally balanced meals provided to children regardless of their race, color, national origin, sex. () anything. Anyone can walk up 18 years or younger during breakfast or lunchtime and have a free meal.”
So they don’t even have to be enrolled in a program there? Anybody can go?
“We do have programs, we have camp programs at all these sites where we have participants who are enrolled. They are also included in the program. Anyone can come up and have breakfast or lunch and we encourage them to. We want neighborhood kids. There’s so many kids that go without a good meal at lunch time or breakfast that we want everyone to be able to take advantage of it. We don’t want kids to go hungry.”
Is it going to be good food? What kind of stuff are you going to have?
“Yes, they’re nutritionally balanced meals and they are provided by local food service companies so we don’t make the food. It comes to us in a refrigerated truck. The meals are either cold or they’re heated. They come to us and our staff who are trained in serving food. We refrigerate the food or we serve the food, depending on which meal it is. We check the temperature. We are really careful about the quality of the food and that it’s done properly, the serving is done properly.”
How did you all identify a problem to get this implemented?
“Well, when you go to camp and you sign up and you register for camp, we’ve always had, as long as I’ve been here, I’ve been with the city 18 years. We’ve always had breakfast provided when you go to camp. But we also realized that there are a lot of children who do not get to eat. When you’re in camp it’s provided for free. We don’t pay for it, it’s a grant. So we expanded it a couple of years ago to include the whole community. We just want everyone to be able to take advantage of it. If they can’t afford to go to camp or if they don’t have the ability to go all summer long. Just if they’re in the neighborhood the can just come up and enjoy a good meal. And they’re going to be around other children, also.”
Tell me about the locations?
“Okay, we have 14 sites. Thirteen of which have breakfast and lunch and they’re strategically located throughout the city of St. Petersburg.”