Florida Granted Federal Waivers to Serve School Meals During COVID-19 School Closures

Press release from Florida Department of Agriculture

This afternoon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture granted waivers to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), providing flexibility to allow schools, child care institutions, and community organizations to feed children during the current COVID-19 school closures.

The federal waivers allow FDACS to provide authority to local school districts on alternative methods of delivering nutritious meals, such as “grab and go” meals, meals available in school pick-up circles, multiple meals (such as breakfast and lunch) picked up at one time, and other methods in non-cafeteria settings, to promote CDC-recommended social distancing. FDACS will also leverage its Summer BreakSpot and Seamless Summer Option non-profit and community partners to ensure Florida’s students are fed.

“For millions of Florida’s children, school meals are the only meals they can count on. We’re working closely with school districts to ensure that students have access to healthy, nutritious meals while schools are closed due to COVID-19,” said Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. “We thank the USDA for helping us provide schools with flexible options to make school meals available. We will leverage innovative solutions, relationships, and the dedication of Florida’s schools and non-profits to ensure no child goes hungry during this pandemic.”

In the 2018-19 school year, Florida’s schools served 286,734,316 school lunches, of which 245,782,422 were free or reduced lunches. These schools served 2,908,335 Florida students, of which 2,089,852 were students receiving free or reduced lunches. FDACS is the state agency that funds Florida’s school lunch program, through $1.3 billion in federal funding.

Information for Parents, Students, and Families:

While Commissioner Fried and FDACS are encouraging all school districts to provide meals throughout the closure, the decision to serve meals during school closures rests with each school district. School districts may begin providing alternative meals as soon as Monday, March 16. Details on meals in Alachua County are here.

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