In response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Michael, Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam today announced that all students in Gulf and Washington counties are eligible for free school meals through the National School Lunch Program from now through Nov. 30, 2018, in addition to other flexibilities to best serve students.
All students in Calhoun, Franklin, Jackson and Liberty counties already have access to free school meals based on the Community Eligibility Provision. The department will continue to work with all impacted counties to make sure their school nutrition programs can best serve the needs of their students.
“Our neighbors and fellow Floridians all across the Panhandle are in need after Hurricane Michael, and we’re going to provide all the help and support we can,” said Commissioner Adam H. Putnam. “To any families who were knocked down and are trying to get back up on your feet: you will not have to worry about how you’re going to pay for your child’s school meals.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture accepted the department’s request to allow all students in Gulf and Washington counties access to free school meals through the National School Lunch Program. These changes, in effect through Nov. 30, will affect 13 schools with 4,333 students.
In addition to access to free school meals, the department also received waivers from the USDA to allow the following:
- Meals to be served in Gulf and Washington counties that do not meet the National School Lunch Program meal pattern requirements due to food losses experienced because of prolonged power outages and a shortage of milk, bread, fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen and canned) and other commodities that have been diverted to support disaster feeding programs which will be ongoing in these communities while school is in session;
- Two or more schools in Gulf County to use the same location and claim meals separately through the National School Lunch Program;
The department also granted the following waivers to Gulf and Washington counties to:
- Serve meals at flexible times for schools operating half-days or combined school sessions; and
- Allow meals to be served without fluid milk, as conditions may prevent school districts from obtaining fluid milk.
Parents or guardians looking for additional information can contact the department at 1-800-504-6609 or [email protected].
Since 2012, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has overseen the state’s school nutrition programs.