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The need for Jacksonville's free summer lunch increases

8:45 PM, Jul 11, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- It's another sign of the economy. Families who never thought they would find themselves in need are now grateful for the options.

If you go to the Oceanway community center, Edward Levy can tell you exactly what's for lunch,

"We've got 1% milk," he said. "And we've got chocolate milk or white milk."

The children FCN saw were at camp, but it was just one of more than 100 locations of the city's free summer lunch program. open to all kids 18 and under.

"They can come by any time," Levy said. "Either neighborhood kids or the children that are registered at a summer camp."

Cheryl Townsend, with the Jacksonville Children's Commission, the program's been around 19 years. She said in 2007, 39% of Duval County students were eligible for reduced lunch. In 2012 that number was 52%, which she said, shows how the need has grown steadily in relation to the economy.

Townsend said the program is funded by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services along with the JCC.

Townsend said in 2012, including snacks, 425,281 meals were served.

In 2013, Townsend said they anticipate by the end of the summer to have served more than their original goal of 600,000 meals. She said that number still is not enough.

"It's very important, because a lot of underprivileged kids may not have something to eat for the summer or for lunch." Levy said.

Thursday, all of the center's 72 meals were served. Levy said he hoped the meals provide the children with "better health and a good attitude."

There are 183 locations across the city of Jacksonville that are offering free lunches. You can find the complete list of locations by clicking here.

First Coast News

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