FOX 35 Investigates: COVID-19 student meal distribution policies

A group of Central Florida moms have been delivering school district-provided meals to students in need.  However, about a week ago, they say they were no longer allowed to pick up the extra meals, so they came to FOX 35 News for help.

“These kids are going to starve, and it’s horrible and it’s not right and it’s not the way our community works,” said Kelli Langton, Orange County mother of two.

Students are learning remotely and Langton worries about kids going hungry. So she has been picking up extra meals with a group of volunteers from Orange County Public School’s East River High meal distribution location. They have been delivering them to about 16 families, who can’t pick up the food on their own.

“People in this type of community don’t have gas for their cars, they don’t have a car, they’ve lost their job, they’re sick, there’s a list of different reasons,” said Langton.

One of those mothers is Tara Turner who has a disability that prevents her from driving.

“Some people don’t have transportation to get up there and they send a friend or family member to go get the lunch for them and they’re telling them no because they want the children to be in the car,” said Tara Turner, mother of three OCPS students.

You see, up until now the rules have been you can only pick up food for your family and you need to have your kids with you in the car. That's leaving these volunteers frustrated.

“We can’t help because the school won’t let us take the food,” said Langton, ”How do we fix the problem because there’s a problem.”

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When FOX 35 News heard about the issue two days ago, we started asking questions. The district said it is asked the feds to loosen the rules, and a change has been put in place where meals can now be handed out and picked up by anyone, as long as they provide the name of a valid student.

We shared the good news with Langton.

“You guys are amazing! Talk about FOX 35 getting it done!” said Langton. “It is amazing of them [OCPS] to do this and we cannot thank them enough. We are so happy!”

Orange County is not alone.  Other school districts are experiencing these challenges. We reached out to Seminole County Public School where they are doing mobile food drop-off locations and having social workers deliver meals. In Volusia County, principals are hand-delivering meals to students without transportation.


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