Panama City - Over the last 4 years, the number of Bay County students who rely on free and reduced lunches has nearly doubled. Just a few years ago about less than 40% of Bay County students qualified for the federal program, now that number is 59.49%. For many, the meals they eat at school are the only consistent food they have access to.
So where does that leave them for the summer? Thankfully there are programs available to make sure Bay County's students are fed. "These summer food programs are extremely important because it's the only chance some of these kids have to get some kind of regular meal. The system is set up to help them and meet as many needs as possible because as we've said, it hasn't quite doubled, but it's getting close to doubling the number over the last four years. We are just glad we have the ability to help these families out," said Bay County Superintendent Bill Husfelt.
More than 20 Bay District Schools are sites for the free summer meals, as are many child care centers. Parents need to call the site where their children will be eating. See the list of sites below. You can also call 2-1-1 for more information.
Programs like these aren't just happening in Bay County, in Port St. Joe, meals will be served at the Washington gym complex at 414 East Kenny Street, beginning on June 11th. Lunch will be served from 12 to 1, a snack from 2 to 2:30.