Alachua County Public Schools extends free meal program due to new school start date

With Alachua County Public Schools’ start date for students pushed back to August 31st, the district’s Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) Department will again be serving free meals all Alachua County children aged 0-18, beginning next week. The district sought and received permission from the federal government to extend the service.

The first day that free breakfasts and lunches will be provided will be Tuesday, August 18. The free meals will continue every weekday through Wednesday, August 26. On certain days, students will receive multiple days’ worth of meals to get them through the weekend, including the weekend right before school begins.

The grab-and-go meals will be distributed from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 23 schools across the district. Students do not have to attend any particular school to get meals from that site. 

Maria Eunice, director of FNS, is encouraging all families to take advantage of the program, regardless of  household income.

“We consider this a great way to reintroduce all students and families to our meal service program and to the wonderful staff that will be serving them throughout the school year,” said Eunice.

When school begins, students attending both brick-and-mortar schools and the Alachua Digital Academy will be provided with meals at 17 school sites. Families of Digital Academy students will be able to pick up meals Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11-1. They’ll be provided meals for schools days, which is the standard during the regular school year.  

Students registered at a school that qualifies for the national Community Eligibility Provision program do not have to apply to receive free meals. Those attending non-CEP schools may be eligible based on family income. More information and a list of pick-up locations is available on the Food and Nutrition Services website at yourchoicefresh.com

Since the end of March, the district has distributed more than 2.3 million meals to students across Alachua County.

“We’re so proud of the work that our food service workers and many of our bus drivers have done to ensure our kids had access to nutritious meals during this crisis,” said Superintendent Karen Clarke. “We’ve heard from many families that this was critical to their children’s health and wellbeing,”

Specific information on meal distribution sites and days is available on the Food and Nutrition Services website at yourchoicefresh.com

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