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Coronavirus in Florida

Nikki Fried activates hotline to find meals for kids during school closures

Find locations by text, phone or online.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Wednesday activated a text line and call center to find free meals for kids during school closures related to the coronavirus.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services partnered with 2-1-1 to create the resources.

Floridians can text FLKIDSMEALS to 211-211 to find the closest participating Summer BreakSpot location with meals available. Residents can also call 2-1-1 to speak with a live operator for additional information.

“For so many of Florida’s children, school meals are the only meals they can count on — that’s why we’re now providing even more ways to secure healthy, nutritious meals for kids,” Fried said.

“Floridians can now find Summer BreakSpot free meal locations by text, by phone, and online, with additional locations being added every day. We encourage families to take advantage of these free resources, and to check with their school districts on other meal availability.”

As of Tuesday, about 1,000 locations had been approved for Summer BreakSpot meal distribution statewide. Fried’s department expects that number to grow as the agency continues to approve additional locations.

If no Summer BreakSpot locations are listed in a county during a given week, users should contact their local school district to determine if school meals will be available. Users should also contact locations listed on the Summer BreakSpot map, or provided by 2-1-1 text or phone operator, to confirm opening dates and times.

These counties are offering meals for students this week: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Broward, Calhoun, Citrus, Clay, Collier, Duval, Hamilton, Indian River, Jackson, Lafayette, Levy, Liberty, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Polk, Sumter, Suwannee, and Union.

These counties will offer meals next week: Baker, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Charlotte, Columbia, DeSoto, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Glades, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Leon, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Monroe, Nassau, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter, Suwannee, Union, Volusia, Walton, and Washington.

Summer BreakSpot is a federally funded program that provides meals to students over summer break, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a waiver to activate the program during coronavirus-related school closures.

The USDA also granted a waiver Fried requested giving schools flexibility on how they distribute meals, including measures to reduce person-to-person interaction. Some of those measures include drive-thru distribution or mass distribution to provide several days worth of meals

In the 2018-19 school year, Florida’s schools served 286,734,316 school lunches, serving 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.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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