JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Organizations on the First Coast are making sure your child does not start the school year hungry.
A back-to-school food giveaway is taking place on Jacksonville's southside at Sandalwood High School Saturday. The address is 2750 John Promenade Blvd. and starts at 9 a.m.
Chris Tobey, CEO and cofounder of Safe Future Foundation, which is hosting the giveaway, says people will line up early. He says they will give out food until they run out.
"Three hundred-plus, easy," Tobey said about the number of people expected. "Because every single Saturday, especially post-COVID, lines are literally around the corner. We have people lining up as early as 7:30 a.m."
One in eight children are at risk of hunger, according to Feeding America. That number can be nearly four children in one classroom if a class has about 30 students.
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture, school breakfast programs must be free in schools where 80 percent or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
Students who eat school breakfast score close to 20 percent higher on standardized math tests and miss less school, according to No Kid Hungry.
Nicole Hamm, executive director of Blue Zones Project Jacksonville, which kicked off its initiative this summer to make Jacksonville a healthier place to live, says they will work with the food vendor for Duval County Public Schools, Chartwells.
"It would absolutely look like working with Chartwells and seeing where there's some opportunity to introduce healthy options," Hamm said. "It could also look like bringing additional vendors into the district that are already here in Northeast Florida. There's an incredible lettuce vendor in Nassau County."
The organization Blessings in a Backpack, which puts together food for students over the weekend, is now in Nassau County this year. Their local managing director says last year, they fed over 5,000 children a week.
The U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture states schools send school meal applications home with students at the beginning of the school year, but you can apply for them any time. To do that, the department says to ask your school district for an application. If you're earning at or less than the income eligibility guidelines, the USDA encourages you to apply.