President Donald Trump’s Administration announced on Saturday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is making it easier for Florida
schools affected by Hurricane Irma to feed students during this time of great need. The measures will potentially impact over 1,800 schools and 1.4 million children.
All students in affected disaster areas in Florida will now be able to enjoy free school meals provided by USDA’s National School Lunch Program through October 20, 2017.
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 October 20.
The Florida counties that qualify for free school lunches for all children are:
Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Columbia, Desoto, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, Suwanee, Union, and Volusia counties.
The 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.”
The 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.