"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is making it easier for Florida schools affected by Hurricane Irma to feed students during this time of great need.
All students in the following counties can access free school meals through the National School Lunch Program from Sept. 18 - Oct. 20, 2017:
Charlotte, Collier, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Pinellas, Broward, Palm Beach, Glades, Hendry, Sarasota, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Putnam, St. Johns, Brevard, Citrus, DeSoto, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Indian River, Lake, Marion, Martin, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Polk, St. Lucie, Seminole, Sumter, Volusia, Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Lafayette, Levy, Nassau, Suwannee and Union.
To further streamline program administration, schools and facilities in these areas can temporarily serve meals that do not meet the menu planning or meal pattern requirements through Oct. 20. USDA is also providing flexibility regarding when kids can be fed, given the preparation challenges caused by the natural disaster.
“In times of disaster, it’s paramount that USDA makes it as easy as possible for our programs to be administered, so no one affected by this disaster goes hungry,” said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Florida is currently reporting shortages of certain food products, so these sensible and timely flexibilities will ensure children receive the assistance needed.”
USDA has also granted schools the option to operate the Summer Meals Programs during the year for unanticipated school closures.
Other flexibilities for affected areas of Florida include:
Schools that are not directly impacted by the hurricane may use their commodity foods to provide plated meals to shelters or other school food service operations.
The normal eligibility requirements for summer meal sites will be waived to make it simpler for sites to provide meals to children.
Administrative and operational reporting requirements will be extended.
For more information on FNS assistance during times of disaster, visit www.fns.usda.gov/disaster.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net.
State officials say as many as 3,000 schools and 2.5 million students may benefit from the plan."
So parentals, custodians, single parents, stepparents, married parents, divorced parents, caregivers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, homeless youth and unaccompanied minor students, VPK as well, not Head Start, in Orange County and 48 other disaster affected counties in the state, this is a federal subsidized waiver for free school meals until October 20th.
Free complete meals until October 20th. Not a la carte. Complete meals.
Some counties are extending it with their own resources until further notice. Check with your school district.
Work with your school if a student requires a 2nd free meal, if needed. Yes, many low-income families, homeless and unaccompanied minor students require a 2nd meal for dinner. That is the reality.
This is especially crucial for our homeless and unaccompanied minor students who might not be aware or participate because of the stigma surrounding free programs in school. They just want to be "normal" and fit in.
These are federal resources. Leverage them to maximize food security for our students and expanding local food bank resources for additional students in need.
These are federal resources. Leverage them. Keep dollars in your pockets. Keep our local food security resources maximized. Use our available federal resources.
If you have been charged for school lunches, complete meals not a la carte, work with your school, including charter schools, to address reimbursement.
Yes, reimbursement. This is a federal subsidized waiver. No school district is losing cash because of this effort. Nor should any school district gain cash because of this effort.
Free school student meals until October 20th in 48 hurricane disaster declared counties. Check with your school district.