Amid school closures, state will still provide free meals to students

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services got the green light to allow Florida public schools to provide meals while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

All Florida public school students will be out of the classroom until March 30 due to coronavirus concerns, which can be difficult for some parents who will need to cover the costs of daycare.   

"It’s really hard because it’s still business as usual for me," said parent Marilyn Bright. "Daycare. That’s going to be hard because you still have to pay the babysitter to come and watch the boys." 

The state says it's up to each district to decide how they will distribute meals and follow CDC-recommended "social distancing". 

"We are trying to get them to think innovatively about how they can lessen the amount of contact they have with their staff and students," said Lakeisha Hood, food, nutrition and wellness director in a state conference call on Saturday. 

The state recommends schools provide 'grab-and-go' options with breakfast and lunch provided at the same time.

"By cars driving through the bus loop, putting the meals on the bus route and allowing transportation services to make stops and providing meals that way," Hood said. 

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is getting ready to serve meals to families.

The organization says it's working on putting together a schedule for mobile food drop-offs.

They say they're in contact with school districts, too.

"There’s going to be a lot of people who are needing help who didn’t expect to need it a few weeks ago," Second Harvest Food Bank Chief Development Officer Greg Higgerson said. 

Second Harvest Food Bank is looking for volunteers to help. You can sign up here.

Many school districts are still finalizing their plans and will release information on how and when they'll be providing meals soon.

Stay with FOX 35 News for the latest information.