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Education

Florida's summer school food program lacks diners

Florida Department of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the state continues to struggle with getting word out that about its summer food programs.  More than 1.6 million low-income public school children rely on free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs during the school year. But many families don’t know that the program also runs throughout the summer.

“Reaching them in the summer falls into two challenges. One, having getting enough sites that offer the feeding program, and the second piece, making sure the children and parents know where they can access that program," state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam told the State Board of Education Tuesday.

There are more than 3,000 sites like recreation centers, YMCA’s, summer camps, churches, and schools, that participate in the summer lunch program. But Putnam says only about 14-percent of eligible children are participating in it. To raise awareness, the department has partnered with the United Way’s 2-11 social service system to steer needy families and children to places where they can get the free meals.