BCPS officials stand ready to hand out free meals to those in need during this time of crisis. Photo by Fenthon Aristhomene
COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, is impacting families in many different ways. Since the coronavirus outbreak, unemployment has had a prominent impact throughout Broward County. The sudden shortage of jobs has led to some families struggling to afford food for their children since they currently have little or no income.
“With the virus going around, a lot of people are being laid off so it’s even harder for them to obtain money and feed their families, I really appreciate what the county is doing to help,” senior Alexis Doxey said.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2017-2018 school year, 3330 students were enrolled at MSD, 735 were eligible for free lunch and 153 were eligible for reduced-price lunch. In the current 2020-2021 school year, 22% of the MSD student body is eligible for free and/or reduced-price lunch, according to Principal Michelle Kefford. Broward County Public Schools regularly provide the option for all students to receive free breakfast every school day.
The website that was formerly only used during the summer for students who are 18 or younger to receive free meals is currently being utilized for families who are greatly affected financially from this pandemic. BCPS has been helping its community during this pandemic in multiple ways including supplying free meals for those in need.
Fortunately, the cafeteria staff from schools across South Florida have reached out to families in order to overcome the inability to feed their children. Over 31 elementary, middle and high schools across Miami Dade and Broward County school districts have been providing meals for those in need.
“There are no questions asked — you show up. We’re not asking for IDs, driver’s licenses. We’re trying to be here for the entire community,” Broward County Public Schools Superintendent, Robert Runcie said to Local 10 News.
The BCPS officials are stationed across different school locations in the county, handing meals out to families. Breakfast is being served from 8 a.m to 10 a.m. and lunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Broward County will be providing meals on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Miami Dade has meals available Monday through Friday.
“For Broward County to give students the opportunity to receive free meals, I think it’s a really generous gesture…especially for the students that rely on their school lunches as their daily meals,” senior Rebecca Toms said.
Students and their families have the option to walk, come by bus or pull up to the car loop of the designated schools to receive their meals. The food is referred to as “grab-and-go” meals because of the efficient pickup and packaging.
“Sixty percent of the students in Broward County Schools receive free or reduced lunch, so when school is closed, it is a huge impact on our families that are already struggling,” Broward School Board Vice-Chair Dr. Rosalind Osgood said to Local 10 News.
Once the distribution of grab-and-go meals ends, the Summer Breakspot program will make it possible for students to continue receiving free meals, as long as a student’s parent or guardian signs them up.
Broward County officials will continue to distribute the free meals until May 1 but may extend the date due to the circumstances. County officials are keen on helping the community and do not want any families to be hungry during this time of crisis.