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Tampa Bay area school districts are expanding free meal services

Their goal is to reach more children.

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Area school districts ramped up free meal grab and go stations as soon as spring break ended, serving thousands of bagged breakfasts and lunches to children aged 18 and under.

As classes resume via distance learning, two districts have plans to expand their services so parents and students don’t have to go so far for the food.

The Hillsborough County school district, which launched with 21 locations, has bolstered its list by about 125 more. That moves the service to nearly three quarters of the district’s campuses.

Each location will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and provide one breakfast and lunch for each child.

The district also will begin sending buses into communities, carrying meals and instructional materials. Find more details about the Hillsborough locations on the district website.

“We are trying to make sure we are closer to homes,” district spokeswoman Tanya Arja said.

Pasco County schools, which began with seven serving sites, has announced it will add 16 more while also sending buses into communities farther from the campuses.

In order to prevent people from gathering daily for the deliveries, the district additionally has decided to have all its distributions on Tuesdays only. It will give each family five days’ worth of breakfast and lunch for each child.

District spokesman Steve Hegarty said the administration made the change to avoid having people return repeatedly and run a higher risk of exposure to coronavirus.

Find Pasco’s expanded list of school sites here. The 16 bus stop locations and times are listed here.

Pinellas County schools, which started with nine school drive-thrus, had indicated they would grow by about 50 more. But those plans did not appear likely to happen.

“Right now, it appears that we’re sticking with the nine,” a district spokesperson said.

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