Controversial pandemic food payments to start Nov. 15
Ron DeSantis is leaving nearly $1 billion in federal food aid on the table. Image via CNN.

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'It’s a shame that it took weeks of effort ...'

More than $1 billion in federal pandemic food aid will start hitting needy families’ electronic benefits transfer cards starting Nov. 15, according to an application that the state Department of Children and Families submitted Thursday.

The state has 2.7 million children who qualify for the food aid payment, which will amount to $375 per child. Three payments that add up to the full payment will be issued over 30 days beginning in mid-November, according to the application DCF provided Friday afternoon.

“Florida is working to expedite the timeline as quickly as possible,” said Mallory McManus, DCF spokeswoman.

Florida was one of the last to apply for the aid that comes with no strings attached and became available in April, however. And the delay in getting it to families became a fierce talking point for Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is running to replace Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022.

She sent a letter publicly calling for him to fill out the application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Aug. 25.

“I’m relieved that Florida families will finally be able to access this benefit to help them afford food for their kids,” Fried said in a prepared statement issued late Friday. “It’s a shame that it took weeks of effort from my department and anti-hunger advocates across the state to convince Governor DeSantis to do something so easy that will help so many families.”

Initially, the Governor’s Office had said the aid was not needed.

Unlike some other states, Florida’s schools were open for in-person schooling, where free and reduced-price lunches are served, said Christina Pushaw, the Governor’s spokesperson. She also said needy children could have received food at Summer BreakSpots, which Fried’s department provides.

DCF’s spokesperson said that the application for Florida’s families to get the direct payments was undertaken at last, “to address any possible gaps left by the Summer Breakspot program.”

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said that the Summer BreakSpots this past summer were more numerous and fed more children than in the past.

While an average summer sees 14 to 16 million meals served at the spots, the department was able to serve 18.5 million meals and opened 1,400 more meal sites across the state, according to a news release.

The application announced Friday may not be the last that Fried is talking about food aid payments.

“My department and I are now eagerly awaiting his (DeSantis’) application for the nutrition aid that is available for this current school year,” she said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]


6 comments

  • Alex

    September 24, 2021 at 8:30 pm

    Free money for hungry kids sat there for 5 months.

    There’s something seriously fucking wrong with our Governor.

    • ALTINA SINCLAIR

      September 26, 2021 at 6:06 pm

      Yes this government should be ashame of themselves. They already done killed so many people’s. God sit high and look low. AMEN.. WOW GOVERNMENT

  • ScienceBLVR

    September 24, 2021 at 9:25 pm

    Right.. food for hungry children just seems like a no brainer .I’ve taught in a high poverty school where kids are food deprived- not a pretty picture. To turn down food aid for Florida and let it be sent to another state just seems so assine,…

  • Asa Mcninch

    September 24, 2021 at 10:35 pm

    Thank u

  • Elizabeth

    September 25, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    Really that is a shame

  • Carrie Smith

    September 27, 2021 at 10:19 am

    January 2021 my husband n myself received $11.00 each were disabled the welfare deducted over $200.00 we have 2 Boys family of 4 were getting a big raise i received a letter from the welfare the other day we were getting$41.00 foodstamps now they raised them to $82.00 a family of 4 on a fixed income i received the pge bill Saturday my bill for 1 month $477.00 we have a little 2 bedroom apartment $850.00 rent thats almost both of our checks not including car payment hygiene cleaning supplies for themonth gas ect. Thank u so much this will really helpmy Family n me get through amonth or 2 maybe 3 if i stretch it. Thank u again n GOD BLESS YOU ALL Carrie Smith from Bakersfield California

Comments are closed.


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