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Hillsborough Schools don't take a summer break from feeding kids

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Posted at 9:47 AM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 16:45:01-04

RIVERVIEW, Fla.  — It may be summer, but the cafeteria workers at Hillsborough County Public Schools aren’t taking a vacation. They are going out into the community feeding thousands of students every day.

Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at YMCA Camp Christina in Riverview, the only difference between a school lunch room and their pavilion is the picnic tables. Beverly Davis and Kathy Williams have been keeping students' tummies full for more than 25 years. They said the Summer Food Service Program is one of the more rewarding parts of the job.

“You can see the joy on the kids' face; they are really enjoying themselves and we are too,” said Williams.

Between June and August, the county will serve breakfast and lunch to more than 8,000 students across 100 different sites.

“One in five children in Hillsborough County is food insecure. We have a lot of hunger, and without having access to school breakfast and school lunch we just aren’t meeting the need,” said Shani Hall, General Manager of Student Nutrition Services with Hillsborough County Public Schools.

The school district said this summer has been particularly challenging for families when you consider the growing inflation everywhere you look.

“We are hearing from families, from parents, from even employees, that amount they budgeted for food before just isn’t enough and they are not seeing an increase in wages so they really are feeling more stretched,” said Hall. “And maybe they didn’t rely on summer feeding programs in the past but I’m here to tell you that this is a good program and it's open and available to every child 18 and under throughout Hillsborough county.”

Their goal is to reach the perfect combination of good nutrition and a good time.

“We try to make our menus kid-friendly and I love coming to a camp like this where you get to see it in action and see them enjoying the food that we have,” said Hall.