Dept. Of Agriculture Announces School Lunch Sites Amid COVID-19 Closures
The Florida Department of Agriculture has announced more than 900 sites in the state that will be serving meals as schools shut down until March 30. The initial list covers 30 of Florida's 67 counties, including Franklin, Gadsden and Leon in the Panhandle.
Right now the sites are in the following counties: Alachua, Baker, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Miami-Dade, Duval, Franklin, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Manatee, Marion, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Santa Rosa, Seminole.
"We are working on more locations right now, so the number will steadily increase. We are focusing on approving applications for the counties that were not on planned Spring Break next week and that will be operating on Monday, followed by other counties," says Deptartment spokesman Franco Ripple.
The state recieved a waiver from the federal government to open sites that partner to offer meals in summer, when schools are closed. The Florida Department of Agriculture administers the National School Lunch Program.
Locations can be found by going to summerbreakspot.freshfromflorida.com and entering one's address. The Department notes not all the locations may be active yet.
The moves after Friday's abrupt announcement from the Florida Department of Education recommending schools across the state be closed until March 30 to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Some districts were preparing to go on Spring Break while others were preparing to come back from the vacation. The decision to extend Spring Break sparked concerns for children who depend on the school lunch program for breakfast and lunch.
The Big Bend region has the highest level of food insecurity in the state.
Leon, Gadsden, Jefferson and Franklin will be on Spring Break this week. Leon previously announced it is planning on serving meals the week of the 23rd.