Somewhere in Manatee County, an unsuspecting child Wednesday was served the one millionth summer meal since the inception of the Manatee County School District program in 2008.
The Manatee County School District’s Food and Nutrition Services Department celebrated the occasion at Daughtrey Elementary School, but couldn’t be 100 percent sure where or when Meal No. 1 million was served.
“It is a huge success. Unfortunately in the summer, a lot of kids do not have access to food so it’s very important that we reach every child in the community that we possibly can,” said Regina Thoma, director of food and nutrition services.
Through the end of summer 2015, the district served 952,451 meals. This year, it is averaging about 6,000 meals a day at 17 schools, 30 community centers and on two buses, said Jessica Anderson, marketing and communications specialist for the department. Originally, officials thought they might hit the one millionth meal in mid-July.
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“We were hitting our numbers a lot faster than anticipated,” Anderson said.
At Daughtrey, students got a special cupcake celebratory cupcake along with their lunch. Nine-year-old Israel McNair held his gently in two hands, starting with the frosting first. He ate with his friends, Trey Schwartz and Jamarri Bivens.
“We’re having our one millionth free summer meal,” Jamarri said.
“It’s really cool to come here,” Trey said.
Israel, Jamarri and Trey are all enrolled in summer school program at Daughtrey, but students from the Boys & Girls Club head to Daughtrey daily for lunch. The site is open to any child under 18 in the community. During the summer, Daughtrey averages about 300 lunches per day.
To find locations for free meals during the summer, visit summerfoodflorida.org or call either 212, or 941-708-8770, ext. 1008. Site times vary. Check website for times. Below is a list of Manatee County Schools and community partners serving lunch this summer:
- Abel, Manatee, Daughtrey, Kinnan, Oneco, Orange Ridge, Palmetto, Palm View, Prine, Samoset, Witt and Bayshore elementary schools;
- Harllee, Johnson, Nolan, Palmetto, Sugg and Lincoln middle schools; and
- Bayshore, Lakewood Ranch, Braden River and Southeast high schools.
13th Ave Community Center, Anna Gayle Center, Desoto Boys & Girls Club, East Bradenton Just 4 Girls Academy, Faulkner Farms, G.T. Bray Park, i-9 Sports Camp@ Imagine Charter, Increasing Joy Ministries, John Marble Park, Just for Girls-Palmetto, Kelly Brown Resource Center, Manatee Charter School, Myakka Community Center, PACE Center, Palmetto Boys & Girls Club, Palmetto Youth Center, Pine Village, Rowlett Academy for Arts and Communication, Rubonia Community Center, Tallevast Community Center, Visible Men's Academy, We Care, West Bradenton Just 4 Girls and YMCA West.
Bus times: (approximate)
- Mobile Feeding Bus No. 1: Lincoln Park (1-2 p.m.); Turner Chapel (noon-12:30 p.m.); and Palmetto High (11-11:30 a.m.)
- Mobile Feeding No. 2: Bradenton Village (11-11:30 a.m.); Southeast High (noon-12:30 p.m.); and Aquatic Center (1-2 p.m.)