Friday, June 03, 2005

$106 million in federal tax dollars
never returned to Florida

The Children’s Summer Nutrition bill has been signed into law by Governor Jeb Bush. Read the whole text of the bill here.

Basically the law will do two things:
  • Assign each school board responsibility for ensuring that children of low-income families have access to at least one summer food site that is open for 35 days of summer within 5 miles of an elementary school with 50 percent or more free and reduced price school meal eligibility
  • Ensure additional summer food sites within 10 miles of the remainder of elementary schools where over half the students attending are from low-income families

Florida ranks second in federal dollars unused for summer child nutrition. Only 13 percent of the approximately 1 million children eligible for free and reduced-price school meals are served by the federally underwritten Summer Food Service Program. And children in half a dozen Florida counties -- Calhoun, Clay, Holmes, Liberty, Wakulla and Walton -- had no access at all last summer.

This translates into many at-risk children and $106 million in federal tax dollars that never return to Florida.

Orange had 222 summer food sites, with 6 sponsors (but not the school board). That may sound like a lot of sites, but 22 counties had greater participation of eligible students in a summer nutrition program than Orange County’s 10%. The participation rates for other Central Florida counties last summer were: Volusia, 12.8%; Osceola, 12.6%; Lake. 7.1%; Brevard, 3.5%; and Seminole, 1.1% -- the lowest rate of the counties that had a summer food program.

You can check out the participation rates for other Florida counties here.


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