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Food Banks, School Districts, Ag Dept. Working On Meal Plans For Vulnerable During COVID19 Shut Down

Large boxes are stacked from floor to ceiling at the Second Harvest of the Big Bend warehouse. Donated food is sorted, labeled, packed, and distributed from 41,000 square foot warehouse in Tallahassee.
Gina Jordan

Second Harvest of the Big Bend is asking for donations as coronavirus worries fuel closures of places that  often serve meals to students, families and the elderly.   The organization services 11 counties in North Florida that have the highest level of food insecurity in the state. It comes as school districts, state and local agencies begin to form plans on how to keep food flowing to the people most at-risk for going hungry in the next few weeks.

“Now is the time. We need your help," Second Harvest of the Big Bed CEO Monique Ellsworth said in a video posted to twitter. "We need your financial contributions so that we can act quickly and make large product purchases so we can distribute food to individuals in need, and we know the individuals in need will increase in the coming weeks.”  

Second Harvest is trying to pre-pack over 400,000 meals for distribution in the next 30 days. It comes as school districts are expected to be closed through March 30. The Florida Department of Agriculture is calling on groups that have traditionally participated in Summer food distribution programs like the “Summer Break Spot” to fill in the gap. 

“We do appreciate if you are able to open those sites," said FDACS's Lakeisha Hood. " We have also opened the application process also for our non-profit program sponsors to be able to operate the Break Spot program to assist in the effort of making sure children are fed during these times.” 

FDACS, which administers the federal school lunch program, says its received a waiver for, flexibility to allow schools, child care institutions, and community organizations to feed children during the current COVID-19 school closures.”

Franklin, Leon, Jefferson and Gadsden School Districts are on Spring Break this week. The districts are working on plans to feed children during the week of the 23rd.

Follow @HatterLynn

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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