Free Summer Food Program Comes to Homestead

The school year ends this week which is bad news for children dependent on subsidized meals. Teachers have long noted decreased performance levels when students are hungry.

The summer gap is being filled by Sisters for Abundant Living (“Sisters”), a Miami Lakes non-profit group. Sisters administers a federal grant through the USDA Summer Food Service Program, and local partners like Florida Impact and the Florida Department of Agriculture.

The group wants to start service at Homestead’s Roby George Park on Monday June 12. It came before Homestead City Council on May 17 for help with liability insurance costs for its service.

Sisters offer a free hot meal and drink Monday through Friday to kids under age 18 and some developmentally disabled adults. Parents are not required to attend.

“I’m honored to have them bring their services to Homestead,” said Councilwoman Patricia Fairclough. “They

provide meals to a very needy population. It also offers summer employment to our youth.”

Councilman Jimmy Williams asked about program details and praised the group’s operation.

“We plan 200 hot meals a day, but since this is new, we’re not sure of participation,” said Kendra Bullock Major, principal officer for Sisters. “If we have to turn kids away, we increase the number of meals when we come back the next day.”

“The mobile units serve 5500 meals a day. Our goal is 22,000 meals every day, from June 12 until school starts again in August,” she added.

Councilwoman Fairclough pointed out alternate sites within walking distance that serve unlimited lunches throughout the summer.

Sisters has four mobile routes, in Hialeah, Allapattah, Naranja and Perrine, with several stops for each route. The Homestead site is an

add-on route slated for at least seven weeks of service under the $80,000 program.

City staff said meals will be served from 3:30 to 4:30 the first week. The non-profit’s trained support staff organized picnic tables and shade cloths as food must be eaten on site and cannot be removed. Sisters also is responsible for clean-up in partnership with City Park staff.

Councilman Larry Roth asked if other activities were planned for the site. City staff said the summer basketball program was nearby and the pool was open, so this was a great location with lots of kids.

“This is not a straight fee waiver request,” said Councilman Jon Burgess. “I’ll offer $250 toward the insurance.”

Sisters’ Bullock Major explained the group was already insured but Homestead’s requirements were higher than other cities making the request necessary to get started.

The City Manager said the amount could be covered by the Contingency Budget and Council unanimously approved the expenditure.

A typical meal contains juice or milk, an apple, hamburger with multi-grain bun, or barbequed chicken.