As any foodservice director would attest, serving 38,706 breakfasts and 158,269 lunches over 40 days as part of the Summer Feeding Program is no small feat! But at Lee County Public Schools in Fort Myers, Florida, one of the 50 largest school districts in the country, that is par for the course. Helen Thomas, the district’s Summer Foodservice Supervisor, shared her amazing success story with us. This summer they served meals at 79 different locations – of which only 18 were school settings with kitchens.
Serving breakfasts, lunches and/or snacks 5 times per week, Helen said they served our Breakfast BREAKS once per week and Meal BREAKS once every two weeks for lunch — becoming definite fans of these pre-packaged, convenient, grab ‘n go solutions.. Since the majority of the children in their large district qualify for free or reduced priced meals, many of these children would not have had breakfast or lunch without the Summer Feeding Program. “It’s a lot of work but very rewarding to feed all these children in need in our communities,” said Helen.
Also, as part of the district’s participation in the Hunger Task Force, the United Way of Southwest Florida presented Food Service with a plaque at a recent School Board meeting. The plaque was given “in recognition of the commitment to caring for our community’s children and feeding those in need during Summer 2010.”
This school year is the first year for Lee County Schools to offer universal school breakfast in all its elementary and secondary schools. The district has over 80,000 students enrolled in 87 schools. Helen said the schools are currently using both Classroom Breakfasts and traditional cafeteria breakfasts, depending on the school, and they have already seen a 31% increase in breakfast participation! They serve 23,000 breakfasts each day, and our new eco-friendly pouch Breakfast BREAKS will be on the menu! We will follow up with Helen later in the year to see how the universal breakfast program grows. Congrats to Helen and her district for feeding thousands of hungry children throughout the year!