NEW PORT RICHEY — During summer vacation, students don’t have their daily lunch break in the cafeteria, but that doesn’t mean their stomachs don’t still grumble. School buses make a stop at multiple Pasco County libraries, schools and centers during the summer months, Monday through Friday, but they aren’t shuttling children. Instead, they are shuttling food to children that are used to spending an hour in the lunch room every weekday.
The Summer BreakSpot program is a federal nutrition program, also called the Summer Food Service Program, that ensures students don’t go hungry while they are out of school. It is funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Any child younger than 18 can receive a free meal with no requirements or application. There is breakfast or lunch, or both, depending on the meal site. Hot or cold meals also vary.
The 2019 summer program began June 5 and will continue through July 31, with a break on July 4.
Meal sites are decided by the school board based on what communities have the most need.
This is the third year that the Regency Park Branch Library has been a Summer BreakSpot cold lunch meal site and Tracey Blimes, the regional branch manager, said that it has been very well received. Teenagers often attend the summer library programs in the morning and then wait for the lunch bus to arrive at 1 p.m.
“People like it and ask for it every day,” Blimes said.
She also likes how it doesn’t single out any child because it’s open to everyone.
“They are here anyway so if they do have this need, it’s that not big of a deal,” Blimes said.
According to a Pasco County Schools twitter post, there are six buses that make 18 stops every day throughout Pasco County meal sites and serve more than 1,000 children and teenagers on a daily basis.
Both breakfast and lunch include one serving of milk and one serving of grains. Breakfast has one serving of fruits and/or vegetables and lunch has two servings. Lunch also provides one serving of protein.
Other library meal sites include Hudson Regional Library, New River Public Library in Wesley Chapel and Hugh Embry Branch Library in Dade City. Meal sites are also offered at a variety of other Pasco locations including James R. Marlowe Elementary School, Starkey Environmental Center and the New Port Richey Recreation and Aquatic Center. For locations, menus and details, visit connectplus.pasco.k12.fl.us/summerfoodpasco, summerbreakspot.org or dial 211.