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Public schools offer free summer meals

Suffolk Public Schools will be providing free meals to kids this summer beginning June 25 at John F. Kennedy Middle School and Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School.

The school division is participating in the Summer Food Service program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.

“This is an option to allow every student to eat a free meal this summer, and it is just another avenue for accessibility and making meals accessible to all students,” said Brian Williams, Food and Nutrition director for Suffolk Public Schools.

The program is federally funded and administered by the state, and the program serves children 18 and under. The school division gets reimbursed for the meals they serve if they serve them for free to children and teens in low-income areas during the summer months.

The school division has been participating with the federally-funded program since 2001, and students do not have to financially qualify to participate in the program.

Suffolk Public Schools serves thousands of meals to students over the summer. According to Williams, they serve around 16,000 breakfasts, 9,000 lunches and 9,000 snacks.

The meals will be relatively standard compared to normal school lunches.

Lunches will feature hot meals like cheeseburgers and chicken filet sandwiches, and the breakfasts will have cold items like cereal and Danishes. They will also have milk and fruit juice as drink options.

The federal Food and Nutrition Services believes that having a free meal service is important to communities, because nutrition is essential to education. Children who miss school breakfast and lunch are more likely to be sick, tardy, inattentive and disruptive in class. The program provides an opportunity to continue physical and social development while providing meals during summer vacation, according to the Food and Nutrition Services.

From June 25 to July 26, Mack Benn Jr., 1253 Nansemond Parkway, will serve breakfast from 9:05 to 9:30 a.m. and lunch from 10:40 to 11:55 a.m.

John F. Kennedy, 2325 E. Washington St., will hold its free meal program from June 25 to Aug. 2. The school will have breakfast from 8 to 8:30 a.m. and have a snack from 10 to 10:30 a.m.