Libraries offer free food to youth

caines | 6/6/2013, 5:30 a.m.

Summer health program feeds children This summer, youth will be able to get more than food for thought when visiting the library, they can also receive free healthy meals. As part of the Healthy Body Healthy Mind Program sponsored by Sisters for Abundant Living in partnership with the Miami-Dade Public Library System youth, up to age 18, will have access to lunch and breakfast, starting June 10 through August 16. The program seeks to promote healthy eating habits and enable youth to read books while participating in other library activities that promote literacy and positive social behavior. The programs goal is to feed 2,000-3,000 children a day through the libraries. According to Kendra Bulluck-Major, the director of Sisters for Abundant Living, the program will allow kids to receive nutritious meals and engage in free academic activities throughout the summer, which will help them avoid delinquent behavior. Bulluck-Major said often times when youth arent a part of a summer program and dont have a productive way to use their time, it could lead to delinquent activities. Also, youth sometimes dont retain the information that theyve learned over the school year because it is not revisited during the summer, according to Bulluck-Major. But by visiting the library during the summer, they will be able to stay on top of their academics. The program will be beneficial to the 71 percent of students who received free or reduced lunch in Miami-Dade, last year. Good nutrition is essential for brain development and functioning. And a child's brain needs energy to stay alert and keep learning and to help their brain reach [its] full functioning ability, according to the Body + Soul website. While at the library, youth will be able to have individual reading or internet time or be a part of one of the librarys structured activities. Along with the 47 libraries, food will be distributed at more than 50 other locations. Any church or non-profit that is interested in setting up a food site, they can contact the organization. Bulluck-Major encourages community members to volunteer and assist the library in reading to and serving the children. She said that it is important for youth to have a positive role model. It doesnt always have to be a parent. They can come in and volunteer and touch a childs life, Bulluck-Major said. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com